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Cross-Cultural Connections

“My parents tried for years to get me into Spanish,” said Jennifer Welch ’19, mechanical engineering major. “I even went to a Spanish preschool so I could hear the language. For some reason, it just wouldn’t stick. So, I just grew up thinking I couldn’t learn foreign languages.”

Then, in high school, Welch’s mother persuaded her to take a Chinese after-school class. “I thought I was going to hate it, and I just loved it. I don’t know whether it’s the engineering brain in me or the characters make more sense than Spanish conjugations, but it just clicked.”

This love for the language has morphed into so much more at the University of Dayton. She is minoring in Chinese language and Asian studies and spent the spring of 2017 at the China Institute. Thanks to a gift from emeritus trustee Bill Anderson and his wife, Janice, Welch was able to return last summer, further immersing herself in her studies and the Chinese culture.

Jennifer Welch ’19 and friends

The fund, which is focused on creating student leaders who recognize and share the value of cross-cultural engagement, found an ideal recipient in Welch. “We didn’t want to give the scholarship to someone who just wanted to improve their language skills,” said Bill. “I was hoping for an ambassador who would find out what the average Chinese person thinks of America and its people and, in return, tell the Chinese our story.”

Welch did just that. “Living with Chinese students, I got a whole new sense of Chinese perspectives. Politics definitely came up a lot, with everything in the news, things like the tariffs, U.S. and North Korean relations. It was interesting to get their views on those situations and share my perspective.”

She also served as a resident assistant during the stay, helping American students acclimate to an unfamiliar country and confront their misconceptions about Chinese society and culture, something she had to contend with during her first trip. “Being on the other side of it, helping guide them through those eye-opening moments when they realized that the biases they held weren’t entirely founded, was really fulfilling.”

Turning a Hobby into a Career Avenue

Jennifer Welch's love of Chinese language and culture could be a valuable asset in her profession.

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A Life of Remarkable Survival, Success and Impact

Learn more about the incredible life of emeritus trustee Bill Anderson.

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