Since his arrival in Beijing in the fall, Ryan Featherston, a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) participant, has made tremendous progress in his Mandarin Chinese language ability. Ryan had very little exposure to Chinese at home in Phoenix, Arizona, but he built on his previous study of Japanese and quickly moved from the beginner level to an intermediate Chinese class. Remarkably, at the end of the fall semester, Ryan went on to score 93% on the HSK 4 (a standardized test of Chinese language ability) and subsequently moved into an advanced language class to begin the spring term. Ryan hopes to take both the HSK 5 and 6 by the end of the year. Progressing from minimal Chinese language knowledge to the highest level of the HSK in under a year would be an extraordinary achievement.
Beyond academics, Ryan is very active in an elementary school teaching club in which a group of the NSLI-Y participants plan and teach classes about U.S. life and culture at a local Chinese school. Ryan especially enjoys introducing American culture and the English language to the first graders in a fun and engaging way. Spending time with the children and sharing laughs hasbeen a highlight of his Beijing experience.
Ryan has also co-taught the Japanese language elective at his Beijing high school, and was a key participant in the school’s fall soccer tournament. On the weekends he spends his free time with his host family, sharing cultural traditions and improving his conversational Chinese.