Sam Christensen, National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) participant studying Mandarin in Changzhou, China is November’s American Abroad Student of the Month.
Originally from Greenville, North Carolina, Sam enthusiastically jumped into the world of intercultural differences and demonstrated NSLI-Y program values by going beyond language learning to build bridges of understanding and friendship with his local community. Early on in his exchange experience, Sam volunteered to help teach English at the primary school where his host mother is a teacher. Before long, he recruited the other NSLI-Y students to volunteer at the school as well.
Sam enjoys discussing American holidays and telling impromptu short stories to the students at the primary school, teaching the vocabulary and pronunciation in a fun and entertaining way. “They are all bright and eager,” Sam says of his students, “and have a lot of fun with the “quizzes” in which I challenge them to say a word out loud before I finish writing it on the blackboard. No matter how fast I write, they often win!”
Sam has also been known to bring a borrowed guitar to class to liven up the English lessons and put on smile on his students’ faces. Sam was also invited to use his improving Chinese skills and musical ability during a performance at the local National Day celebration. With his classmates, other Chinese friends, and even people on the bus, Sam enjoys discussing differences in cultures, economies, and value systems. Sam’s effort to become fully immersed in China has broadened his view of the world, enhanced his language learning, and touched the lives of many Chinese friends and acquaintances.
According to Sam, “This trip has also given me the opportunity to look inward as well, and learn to be more kind, understanding, and open-minded, among a multitude of things. So far, this has been an experience without equal, and I can’t wait to see where it will lead me in the future.”