Critical Language Scholarship Program | Anesce Dremen
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Anesce Dremen

Anesce Dremen is an alum­na of both the 2015 and 2016 CLS Chi­nese pro­grams in Xi’an and Suzhou, Chi­na, respec­tive­ly. She is cur­rent­ly a senior at Carthage Col­lege major­ing in Chi­nese and Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture with a cre­ative writ­ing con­cen­tra­tion. Raised in a lit­tle town in North Car­oli­na, Anesce took off to the frozen win­ter won­der­land of Wis­con­sin to attend Carthage Col­lege. When not cud­dling with a book, she can be found brew­ing tea (with yix­ing teapots), cook­ing scrump­tious veg­an dish­es, writ­ing poet­ry, or rais­ing aware­ness on domes­tic violence.

Why Chi­nese?

The sum­mer before my first year of high school, I read Lisa See’s nov­el Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” and was imme­di­ate­ly engrossed. I swift­ly read all the books the hum­ble, local library offered about Chi­na. Two years lat­er, my high school was one of thir­teen in North Car­oli­na to begin teach­ing Man­darin. The more I learned, the more the lan­guage became insep­a­ra­ble from myself. The use of char­ac­ters rather than let­ters cap­ti­vat­ed me and I began to draw con­nec­tions between ety­mol­o­gy and cul­tur­al val­ues. While at Carthage Col­lege, I enrolled in a course titled Tea: Sci­ence & Soci­ety,” which delved specif­i­cal­ly into the his­to­ry and cul­ture of Chi­nese tea; I learned how to dis­tin­guish the main cat­e­gories of tea and learned how to clum­si­ly brew tea with a gai­wan. Study­ing abroad was the expe­ri­ence that solid­i­fied my love for Chi­nese peo­ple and culture. 

Think­ing in Chinese

Before CLS, I would think in Eng­lish and trans­late the sen­tences into Chi­nese before speak­ing or writ­ing. While par­tic­i­pat­ing in CLS and abid­ing by the lan­guage pledge, I gained a new mind­set by think­ing in Chi­nese before speak­ing. This not only allowed my gram­mar to become smoother, but allowed a bal­ance in self-con­fi­dence, ease, and humil­i­ty with­in my speech. 

Tea Time

While in Xi’an in 2015, I didn’t yet have the vocab­u­lary to dis­cuss lit­er­a­ture at a sat­is­fac­to­ry depth; instead, I would vis­it tea shops locat­ed a five minute walk away from cam­pus to sip tea and dis­cuss tea cul­ture. Dur­ing one of these excur­sions, I made two local tea friends” whom I still stay in con­tact with sev­er­al times a week now, near­ly two years lat­er. There are count­less peo­ple I’ve met via CLS who I still keep in touch with. 

Whether talk­ing with room­mates, home­s­tay fam­i­ly mem­bers, lan­guage part­ners, or com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, I encour­age those who study abroad to dis­cov­er a pas­sion and share! I under­stand how frus­trat­ing it can be to not be able to ful­ly express your­self, but treat your­self with patience. You will make grand improve­ments grad­u­al­ly — it does not occur overnight. 

Find­ing a Voice

The con­cept of fam­i­ly and the sheer impor­tance of fil­ial piety in Chi­na is both admirable and fright­en­ing to me. As some­one who ran away from an abu­sive fam­i­ly, it was dif­fi­cult for me to answer some of the basic, intro­duc­to­ry ques­tions peo­ple asked. When I said I don’t have par­ents,” some Chi­nese peo­ple would assume I couldn’t com­pre­hend the sim­ple words they spoke. Some­times I would lie and describe my friend’s fam­i­ly only to lack pho­tographs of home” to share. Some­times I would claim to be an orphan who grew up in a church or school. It was sim­ply less cum­ber­some. It is dif­fi­cult for me to talk about what I went through in my native tongue, let alone in a sec­ond tongue. Yet, there are esti­mates that one in three peo­ple are abused at least once in their life­time. I am not the only one strug­gling to speak. 


Alumni Profiles

Anesce Dremen
Anesce Dremen
Chinese 2016
Suzhou, China

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Posted Date

March 28, 2017