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ASU student wins Fulbright-Hays Scholarship to China

December 30, 2013

Maria Chappell, an ASU senior majoring in anthropology and Chinese, has been awarded a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship to study in China to improve her Chinese language and cultural knowledge.

Chappell, a Glendale native, will spend the spring semester working on research projects at Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an – one of the oldest cities in China – located in the Shaanxi province, where along with studying Chinese language and culture, she will take classes in Chinese boxing and a two-stringed bowed musical instrument called Erhu. The visit will include a six-week internship during the summer at Xi’an High Technology Development Zone. The Cortez High School graduate will also celebrate the Chinese New Year with a Chinese family and plans on visiting Yunnan and Shangri-La to experience Tibetan culture.

“With the help of the Fulbright-Hays scholarship, I will be able to immerse myself in Chinese language and culture, and become an observer of life in China,” said Chappell. “The opportunity will allow me to form connections and, eventually, relationships with the natives and absorb the insight they have to offer.”

But learning about Chinese language and culture wasn’t the first choice for Chappell. She had initially hoped to focus her attention on archaeology and ancient Mesoamerica.

“However, I decided that I was more interested in a cultural anthropological look at China, since it is one of the most pivotal, modern-day cultures in the world,” she said. “I subsequently enrolled in the Chinese Language Flagship Program at the School of International Letters and Cultures and haven’t looked back." The School of International Letters and Cultures is within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For Chappell, understanding culture and how it affects a person’s life direction and reaction to various circumstances is fascinating.

“Studying anthropology and Chinese language has made me realize that there is more to the world than just the American way of looking at things,” she said. “But, along with the differences, you also start to notice the similarities in cultures and realize that we are not that different after all.”

Business anthropology is another related subject that interests the bright and promising ASU senior, who plays double-reed musical instruments as a hobby. She wants to become a cross-cultural business consultant after graduation.

“If a company in the U.S. wishes to start a business in China, in order to be successful, it would have to be familiar with marketing tactics and business practices that align with Chinese culture and values. That is where business anthropology comes in handy.”

Understanding cultures and decision-making processes and motivations makes Chappell tick, and she is happy to have pursued her topics of interest at ASU.

“The ASU community has provided me opportunities to pursue my dreams,” she said. “I hope to never stop moving forward. I want to keep getting better and learn more.”

The Fulbright-Hays Scholarship is funded by the U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays GPA Program and granted through Associated Colleges in China (ACC), a partnership of six leading institutions of higher education in China. It is awarded to deserving U.S. undergraduate or graduate students to sponsor tuition, travel and living expenses in China.