Emma Strouse started her journey with Chinese in elementary school where, at first, learning the language was only an academic obligation. However, after a middle school teacher recommended a program within Arizona State University called Startalk, she developed a wholehearted passion for Chinese.
“Learning Chinese was a requirement at my elementary school and high school. We learned the basics so it wasn't anything that super in-depth, just something we did once a week,” Strouse said.
“I just kind of continued on but didn't feel passionate about it until my teacher recommended Startalk,” a program that was previously offered by ASU’s Chinese Language Flagship program. “It was just two weeks, but that was my 'aha' moment, because I learned about the Flagship program through it, and I was able to study Chinese outside of just my middle school setting, which was really eye-opening for me.”
A family trip to China in 2016 cemented Strouse’s interest in Chinese. Confronted with the fact that she struggled to speak the language even though she had been studying it since elementary school, she made the decision to continue with her Chinese studies in college to learn all aspects of the language and culture.
Now, the Barrett, The Honors College student and Arizona native from Cave Creek will graduate this May with a degree in Chinese as part of the Flagship Program.
Although her studies are primarily focused on Chinese language, her experience at ASU has encouraged her to broaden her horizons. As a result, she chose to focus her honors thesis on Taiwanese literature and the modernist movement.
Strouse has participated in several internships that have broadened her knowledge and opened her eyes to a myriad of ways of applying her degree and interests to a career. She is currently studying abroad in Taipei, Taiwan, working on an internship with a non-governmental organization called Citizen Congress Watch that evaluates members of Taiwan's legislature. Her work centers on translating and transcribing legal documents and meetings in both Chinese and English.
Although she was initially focused on work in the public sector, a number of opportunities have emerged which sparked her interest in nonprofit work.
As a part of the World Innovators internship with the ASU Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab, Strouse has worked with the anti-corruption Central Asian Research Institute on Corruption and Money Laundering in Kyrgyzstan. Her favorite tasks that were editing the English version of their UN report and holding a democracy camp for high-school students.
She also furthered her interest in nonprofit work when she interned with ASU Project Humanities, assisting with educational events and homeless outreach.
Strouse attributed her ability to pursue her academic interests to the Flagship program and Boren Awards for supporting her study abroad.
She also recognized Next Generation Service Corps, which enabled her to complete a certificate in cross-sector leadership to learn more about how to apply her Chinese language knowledge to the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
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