Chinese Alumni

Ian Headshot

Ian Jones, B.A. in History, 2016

Ian Jones Ian Jones is a recent graduate from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin with a Master of Public Affairs. He is a magna cum laude graduate in History from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. While completing his undergraduate degree, Jones spent two summers in China, completing an immersive language training program and interning with the U.S. Department of State in the Fraud Prevention Unit at the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou. After graduating, he spent five years in China immersed in Chinese culture and language, working as an English teacher. Jones recently worked with the Institute for the Study of War on their China team, with a focus on Taiwan's political and security situation.

Why did you study Chinese at WCU?

Learning Chinese at WCU has provided me with opportunities and a strong language base to further continue my language studies after graduation. Having studied Chinese, I was able to both study abroad and intern with the US Department of State in China because of the language skills I acquired during my time at WCU. Because of these experiences, I felt confident enough in my abilities to move to China for several years to work and further increase my language skills.

What have you done since graduating from WCU?

Learning Chinese has changed me for the better by giving me many opportunities that I would not have ever considered at the beginning of my college career. Because of the Chinese program at WCU, I was able to learn Chinese well enough to live there for several years, becoming immersed in the culture and being given the opportunity to travel not just in China but throughout all of Asia. Learning Chinese has also made me more competitive in an already competitive job market – given the unique relationship between China and the US, Chinese speakers are in high-demand in government, think tanks, and even the private sector. My current career path in public policy as a China analyst is all thanks to learning Chinese at WCU (with a special shoutout to Dr. Chien for convincing me to study Chinese in the first place).

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Mark Bynum, B.A. in English Education with a teacher certification, 2017

I originally chose to take Chinese courses for my professional needs, since I planned to teach English in China after completing my teaching degree. Teaching abroad and traveling was my dream for quite some time. This did, indeed, help with employment but, also, acquire important language survival skills during my time in China. Essentially, learning Chinese provided an important stepping stone in my professional life. Furthermore, I grew to appreciate the language beyond just being a useful tool, and it became a part of my life as I continued to immerse myself among its people in Chinese society. The Chinese language served as a gateway for me to explore the culture, meet many wonderful people, and gain a new perspective on my own life. It also allowed me to obtain a greater perspective on how society, culture, and language interact with each other. These sort of linguistical-societal-cultural relationships are often unconsciously hidden when living in one's native culture or language. Most important of all, learning Chinese led to some of the most memorable moments of my life as a teacher in China, especially with the countless students I met, some of which I still talk to on occasion. I am wholely grateful I took that leap to learn Chinese and equally grateful for my wonderful Chinese teacher.