Yanisha Brown

boren profiles

Yanisha Brown

2005 Boren Scholarships

University of Arkansas

Mandarin, China

International Relations

I’m originally from Arkansas and studied in Chengdu, China for an academic year. One of the reasons I decided on that particular area of China is because it is slightly off the beaten path. I wanted to study in a place where there would be few foreigners because I thought it would be good for language acquisition.

My life in China was very fulfilling. In a typical day, I would go to Chinese class for four hours in the morning, have lunch near campus with a friend, and in the afternoon I had other classes. I took a Chinese government class, a Chinese culture class, and, as a fun one, I took a class on Chinese cuisine. I had really gotten used to some of the local food and was interested in learning how to cook it since I knew I would have a hard time finding it when I got back to Arkansas.

As an extracurricular activity, I participated in something called “The English Corner.” I would stand in the middle of the square and random students would come to practice their English with me. I could understand because I would seek out people to practice my Chinese, and participating in “The English Corner” helped me make Chinese friends. We would go to the movies, I got invited to people’s houses, and it was a really good experience overall.

My Boren experience affected my language skills in a dynamic way. Nothing can compare to the year that I spent there, particularly my second semester when I lived with a host family. In the first semester, I lived around other Americans and Europeans and, even though my Chinese improved, it was not as good as I wanted it to be. During my second semester, although both of my host parents did speak English, I specifically asked them not to because I really wanted to work on my language skills. It was a great experience.

Since my Boren Scholarship ended, I have completed my degree at the University of Arkansas and received master’s degrees from Seton Hall University in Asian studies, and diplomacy and international relations. Last summer, I did an internship in Taiwan with the Department of State. 

If I could give advice to applicants for the Boren Scholarship, I would tell them to be honest and to make sure they tap into the life experiences that motivated them to study overseas. I also suggest that applicants make friends in their institutions’ international programs offices, since the staff can really help them edit their applications. 

A couple of years before I applied for the Boren Scholarship, going to China seemed like a farfetched idea. It was a little overwhelming at times since I was the only one from my school and I was far away by myself. However, I decided that it was more important for me to learn this language and to develop into a global citizen. I definitely appreciate the Boren Scholarship for giving me that opportunity.

Written: September 2010

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