Jack Ryan Mazzarelli on his experience in URI’s Chinese Language Flagship Program

Jack Ryan Mazzarelli is a senior double majoring in chemistry and Chinese. Here he writes about his experience being in our Chinese Language Flagship Program, one of thirteen unique programs in the United States where students can progress to fluency in Mandarin Chinese.

When I first came to URI, I had no intention of majoring in Chinese at all. I took CHN 101, the lowest level Chinese language course, with the hopes of earning an easy A and maybe picking up some phrases. Upon entering the classroom and starting to understand how these courses are structured, I immediately fell in love with the language, the culture, and the courses themselves. I started out knowing absolutely nothing about China, its role in the global economy, or its culture. However, after a fun semester I decided to move onto the advanced classes and officially join the Flagship program. This brought me a few key benefits: The first was the ability to have Chinese classes everyday. I was able to retain much more, and it decreased the amount of time I had to study because I was constantly being refreshed on the material. In addition, the tutoring sessions in the library (each student takes 4 a week) helped me make a lot of new friends, meet future collaborators to work on research with, and connect with foreign exchange students.

Attaining fluency in a language is extremely difficult without structure, and that is what the comprehensive nature of the Chinese Language Flagship program provides. After a year and a half of studying Chinese, I went from not knowing how to say a single sentence to being able to read complex articles and hold full conversations with a native speakers. After 2 and a half years in the program, I can think, feel, and speak in Chinese on virtually any topic with little to no difficulty. I’m now at the level where I can listen to native speakers talk about politics, economics, and societal problems. This kind of ability is invaluable in today’s job market. Mandarin Chinese is one of the most in demand languages in the world, and I promise you that regardless of what your other major is, being proficient in Chinese will help you be a competitive applicant for any job.

Joining the Flagship program quite literally changed my entire life. Before joining I wanted to be a scientist, work in a lab, and pursue a Ph.D. However, now I’ve decided I want to go to grad school to become a translator so that everyday I have the opportunity to interact with Chinese speakers.

You can connect with URI’s Chinese Language Flagship Program on Facebook or on Instagram.