It is not uncommon for a college student to study abroad. But USD student Matthew Jones ‘13 took studying abroad to another level this summer with his recent participation in the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program in China.
Under the two-month program at Shaanxi Normal University in X’ian, China, Jones was fully immersed in Chinese language and culture, even signing a pledge not to speak English for the duration of the program. He and his Chinese roommate “had to express our opinions, adjust to each other’s habits and preferences, and compromise to find solutions to any problems that may have arisen.”
Jones, (pictured, middle), an international relations major and Asian Studies minor, will graduate next spring. A member of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), he will receive his commission and begin his service as an officer.
A native of Las Vegas, Jones was among approximately 630 undergraduate and graduate students selected for the prestigious CLS program in 2012. The program provides fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to increase language fluency and cultural competency.
CLS program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers. The program aims to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
“It is hard to pick a single experience that I enjoyed the most because each experience was unique and memorable in its own way,” he said. “Yet despite the diversity in each experience, they all shared a common string that made them each equally memorable. And that is that I especially enjoyed applying everything that I learned and studied about Chinese language, culture, and history in interacting with Chinese people I met. It was a fantastic opportunity.”
Jones expects that his background in Chinese language, culture, and history will be a tremendous asset to the Navy, especially as China continues to play a larger role in international politics. He hopes to return to China following his naval career to further his studies.
Overall, Jones found the experience to be extremely rewarding learning experience that will unquestionably benefit his future. “The personal, one-on-one diplomacy was arguably the most rewarding aspect of this whole experience. Sometimes, I had a hard time believing it was real and had to say to myself, ‘Wow, I really am in China, and this is really happening.’”
— Erick Podwill ‘13