What position do you hold at CET? What has been your career path so far?
Kat: My career path in study abroad started the summer after my junior year of college, when I studied at CET’s Intensive Chinese Language program in Harbin. I rejoined CET a year after graduation, starting as an Asia Programs Coordinator in CET’s main office in DC. In my time at the main office, I had the opportunity to get to know everyone in the company and work with all of our programs in China, Japan, and Vietnam at one point or another.
At the end of last year, I moved into a new role as a Campus Relations Coordinator. I now live in Austin, TX, and travel frequently to campuses all over the Southwestern US. I represent CET at study abroad fairs and other on-campus events while working closely with students, faculty, and staff to answer questions about CET programs worldwide.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Kat: As a child, my parents took me to Chinatown in San Francisco to see a parade and eat together, and I remember being scared the whole time - especially of another little girl who tried to speak with me, but she didn’t speak English.
As I grew up, I wanted to learn more about different cultures and languages, rather than be scared of them. A few years after being scared of Chinatown, a friend of my parents told me about someone they knew who spoke 7 languages fluently. I thought that that was what I wanted to do when I grew up!
I think language learning and cultural immersion are the best ways to overcome fear, confusion, and misunderstanding among people. I also like that learning languages and cultures is a lifelong process. Working with my colleagues and students around the world encourages me to keep actively learning.
What language have you always wanted to learn and why?
Kat: The list is long, but I have to say that Japanese is at the top of the list. While I can speak a little and read Hiragana and Katakana¸ interest in Japan is what brought me to study East Asia, which in turn brought me to learn Chinese. I have focused on Chinese for a long time, but my interest in Japanese has not diminished.
I have close childhood friends in Japan and am very interested in the art and textile history of the country. Japan has a fascinating (to me, anyway!) history of techniques in weaving, dyeing, and embroidery.
Greater fluency in Japanese would help me learn more about my topics of interest, and it would be great to be able to speak Japanese with some of the friends who helped spark my interest in East Asia.
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the CET team.
Kat: There are many instances that come to mind, but the first is a thank-you card I received from a student at the end of her term in Harbin. She wrote me a postcard from Harbin describing what the program had meant to her, and how much she appreciated my role in helping her attend the program.
The postcard is hanging over my desk now. I really appreciated that she thought of me at the end of her time in Harbin and took the time to write to me. It’s an excellent reminder that I am proud to be part of a team that can help students achieve their goals and go on to pursue great opportunities globally.