Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program students in Beijing not only improve their Chinese language skills, they also gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture through participation in structured cultural activities and by living with host families throughout the eight-week program.
CLS Beijing students often develop close bonds with their host families and learn nuances of Chinese culture. In turn, their Chinese host families learn more about the United States, particularly its diversity. The host family experience allows for the deepening of mutual understanding between the United States and China.
For Myles Postell-Reynolds and his host family, this was certainly the case.
“My host family was amazing,” said Myles Postell-Reynolds (CLS Beijing ’11). “Whenever a friend came to town or a special occasion came up, they insisted I celebrate with them. It usually involved a very fancy dinner. They also took me to the pool every week and helped me organize a trip to Chengdu to see their parents. I was extremely impressed by their dedication to keeping me comfortable.”
Postell-Reynolds’ host family was impressed with his enthusiasm for learning and ability to integrate into the family in a short time. They also enjoyed the opportunity to see some of their Chinese customs through new eyes.
“When we have meals, we Chinese always try to persuade our guests to have more food, as a way to show our hospitality,” said his host mom. “At the beginning, we didn’t notice that we were doing this. We tried to persuade Myles to eat more food and said, ‘This, this, and this are all yours.’ Myles was surprised and said, ‘Oh, no, no.’ Then we realized that he took our words seriously. We stopped trying to persuade him to eat more, and Myles learned this was a Chinese custom. After this, sometimes he would say, ‘This, this, and this are all yours’ jokingly to us.”
After completing the CLS Program in Beijing, Postell-Reynolds returned to Morehouse College in Georgia, where he is studying international relations. He plans to continue to study Chinese and hopes to use it in his future career.