Learning about American and Asian Culture at ALCI

By Yiting Li, Asian Learning Center Intern

Growing up in a different culture, I have always wanted to learn more about American culture, especially after I came here three years ago as a High School International Exchange Student. I stayed with an American host family in Mayville, WI during my senior year of high school. Many reasons brought me to the United States. For example, I want to improve my language skills and get to know more people from different backgrounds. There was definitely a huge difference between the high school in America and the one in Beijing, my hometown. I took advantage of being an exchange student and tried out various new things. For example, I joined the Cross Country team and the school musical. During my time there,
I learned many things about Americans, from holiday to sports. Also, as a Chinese student, I have always wanted to share knowledge about my country and my culture with others. After talking with my host mom, I went to volunteer at the local 4H club and made traditional Chinese food for the kids. I also conducted a workshop on how to use chopsticks. The most important thing that I learned during that year is the significance of cross-culture communication, and that was also the motivation to continue my college education in the United States and to work as an intern at The International Center. 

At The International Center, I am the Asian Learning Center (ALCI) Intern and my main project is to create a university outreach plan for the Asian Studies Curriculum here. The vision of ALCI is to promote Asian studies and culture within the state of Indiana. In 2012, we started a pilot program at 18 locals and conducted Asian studies and culture workshops there. While we reflected on the previous work, we discovered a great need for volunteers. The staff members at ALCI could not reach out to as many students as the volunteers could. Thus, the idea of reaching out to university students and pairing them up with local K-12 schools came to mind. By developing the outreach plan, we hope to reach out to more schools and to promote the Asian studies to more students. 
One of the greatest things about interning at The International Center is that I get to work with staff members who come from diverse backgrounds. We share the similarities and respect the differences between each of us. It is also great to see how cross-culture communications play an important role here at The International Center. I am enjoying my internship and would love to continue to promote the importance of cross-culture communication in the future.