American student forges closer links with Chinese culture

(Xinhua) 15:21, January 11, 2024

TIANJIN, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Putting on the traditional Chinese dress Qipao, or cheongsam, sticking a wooden hairpin in her hair bun and holding a folding fan, Raina Chareese Luke took photos showing off the Chinese traditional elements that she had on.

The 19-year-old American is particularly fond of traditional Chinese clothing, especially the Qipao, a classic tight-fitting dress, and Hanfu, a traditional robe embellished with intricate embroidery.

"They are so uniquely beautiful, so I've even bought several Hanfu garments online as daily outfits," she said.

An international exchange student from Georgia, Luke enrolled in a six-month Chinese language program at Tianjin University in north China's Tianjin Municipality last September.

However, her interest in Chinese language and culture began in her second year of middle school.

Luke started learning Chinese as her second foreign language, but back then only by chance. "I knew nothing about the country or the language I was about to learn," she said.

But she completely changed her mind after the first class. "Rather than asking us to learn vocabularies or sentences, the Chinese teacher played a Chinese song Tian Mimi, literally meaning Sweet Honey in Chinese, for us," Luke said, adding that she was attracted to the lyrics, which sparked her interests in the Chinese language.

From then on, Luke watched Chinese movies and soap operas in her free time, as well as doing a part-time job at a Chinese restaurant where she would practice her Chinese language skills with the staff and customers.

"The more I learn about China, the more fascinated I am about the Chinese culture," Luke said. She finally made up her mind to come to study in China.

At Tianjin University, Luke has quite a busy and fulfilling life. "Studying is my first priority. The Chinese language program lasts for only one semester, so every day counts," she said.

Luke also joined the university's international student choir as well as other extracurricular activities such as sports events and the New Year gala.

As the semester draws to a close, she was excited to learn about the Chinese government's plan to invite 50,000 young Americans to China on exchange and study programs within five years.

"I hope to come back to China for my undergraduate studies and work in China after graduation in the future," Luke said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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