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I was first drawn to the field of teaching Chinese as a foreign language while pursuing my graduate studies in second language acquisition and teacher education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). My graduate work, which included multifaceted opportunities to teach, explore research projects, and direct the Chinese language program at UIUC, cultivated my drive and enthusiasm for Chinese language education and teacher training. The aspect of teaching that I have always found most rewarding and fascinating is the process of putting theory into practice. Since the beginning of my teaching career, I have focused on embodying innovative approaches to teaching diversified learners of Chinese. Theory-based pedagogy also inspired a new phase in my career, which evolved into what has become my lifelong devotion to teacher training. I regard it as my true calling to prepare teachers to become global professionals who approach their teaching with confidence, enriched and supported by theory and practice.
While teaching at the University of Virginia (UVA), I directed the UVA Shanghai study abroad program, founded the UVA Chinese outreach program, and have served since 2008 as the director and key trainer of the Virginia STARTALK Chinese Teacher Academy at UVA. I have also been involved in a wide spectrum of national and international initiatives. My roles have included, but are not limited to: a member of the AP Higher Education Advisory Committee at College Board; a College Board consultant in AP Chinese and curriculum advisor for AP Chinese Audit; an OPI certified tester in Mandarin Chinese; and a K-12 Chinese language program evaluator and foreign language program reviewer for ACTFL/NCATE.
I feel truly honored to have had the opportunity to serve as the inaugural director of the Institute of World Languages (IWL) at UVA. As the IWL continues to gain visibility and to mobilize the foreign language community at UVA and beyond, I hold the directorship with great gratitude to the dedicated IWL committee, subcommittees, and language professionals who so expertly assist UVA language learners in becoming responsible and competent world citizens and leaders in the global community. In my first term of service, from fall 2014 to spring 2017, I led world language faculty in twenty-four language programs across eight departments in devising strategies for, and prioritizing the goals of, enhancing foreign language teaching and learning and maximizing achievable outcomes for the IWL. Through this process of intensive planning and collaboration, the IWL community collectively accomplished a number of initiatives that shaped the development of the institute. As I enter my second term of service in fall 2017, I continue to lead the IWL community as we implement another three-year visionary plan. Rooted in frequent consultation with faculty and student leaders that resulted in synergized efforts and enthusiastic support from language programs and departments, the Language Forward Initiative will be officially launched in fall 2018. This new initiative involves twelve language faculty members in ten languages across seven language departments, who will establish long-term relationships with institutions abroad. These relationships will increase UVA’s global presence and inspire further academic exchange, enriching the cultural experience of UVA students and faculty across the university.
We learn most from what we give, not what we take. I am grateful for opportunities to work with many dedicated educators to launch the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia (CLTA-VA), and I am honored to serve as the founder and president of the CLTA-VA, a Board member of the Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA) and the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA). Serving national professional organizations has widened my scope and given me further appreciation of the true value in volunteerism and professionalism, qualities of all excellent leaders. I look forward to embarking on more national and international initiatives in the future.