East meets West
While gathering facts for the article on the new Chinese language course for the summer issue of The Bridge, we had the opportunity to correspond with Anna Marshall, the new professor of Chinese at Messiah College. We asked her to tell us a little about herself and her thoughts about teaching and learning Chinese.
courtesy of Anna Marshall
Anna Marshall will teach the first students of Mandarin Chinese at Messiah College this fall. Two sections of the class are being offered and they are filled.
How long have you been teaching Chinese and what first made you interested in the language?
I have been teaching Chinese for 14 years. I was born and grew up in China. In 1995 while I was a graduate student in the English department of Syracuse University, I was invited to lecture on Chinese classical poetry at Skaneatles High School. I was impressed with the enthusiastic responses of the students, so I applied for a Chinese teaching position at Syracuse University, and I got the job. Later on I also volunteered teaching at Central New York Chinese School and was awarded with the honor of “Teacher of the Year Award.” I have also taught Asian business culture and basic conversation classes to my former employer, Lockheed Martin at Syracuse, N.Y.
Why is it so important to add Chinese to a language department that has, up until now, featured only European languages?
Chinese is spoken by more people than any other language in the world. More than 21 percent of the world’s population lives in China! Beyond that, there are many other Chinese people in Southeast Asia and around the world. China opened its doors three decades ago. The economy is booming and Chinese people are very open to the Gospel. Chinese is a critical language for business and ministry in the 21st century.
A famous Chinese saying that I used to quote to my students at Syracuse University and Lockheed Martin is Sunzi’s “Know yourself and know others, and you can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat.” Sunzi is the writer of The Art of War (500 B. C.). Chinese people believe it essential to know another culture before entering the territory to win a war. It is applicable in the business world, and it works well with evangelism.
What is your favorite thing about the language?
I like classical Chinese poetry, the beautiful tones, the calligraphic strokes, and Chinese music. Language consists of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The four parts are integrated and interrelated. I can’t say I favor one over another. According to a Czech proverb, “To learn a new language is to get a new soul.” I feel so blessed to be naturally bilingual and I enjoy sharing the Chinese language with American college students.