Mandarin at Mizzou

Hello, everyone! 你好 (Ni Hao)! My name is Rebecca Price and I’m a first year Stamps Scholar from Memphis, Tennessee. I’m studying Business and International Studies with an emphasis in East Asia. It’s not even been a full year for me here at Mizzou yet, and there have already been so many wonderful opportunities to engage in the community and grow from, both in and out of the classroom! Some of my favorite things to engage with, though, have been the many different resources and outlets available to practice and improve my knowledge of Chinese and Mandarin.

I’ve been continuing studying Mandarin this semester in Chinese 3160.  Our class meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and has about fifteen people in it, which is really nice for being able to practice more and make sure you are saying everything correctly and coherently. We have covered topics such as dating, working, and the internet, as well as studied two famous ancient Chinese poems, “静夜思” (“Jing Ye Si”, “Thoughts on a Tranquil Night”) by Li Bai, and “春晓” (“Chun Xiao”, “Spring Morning”) by Meng Haoran.

“静夜思” (“Jing Ye Si”, “Thoughts on a Tranquil Night”) by Li Bai shown with an accompanying painting.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday night, respectively, since last semester I’ve been going to the free Mizzou Business Mandarin and Mizzou Mandarin classes hosted by the University of Missouri’s Confucius Institute. These classes welcome anyone from the Columbia community, and allow for in-depth conversations about the language and culture due to each being plenty long, an hour and a half, and their nature of having small class sizes. This is accomplished in the Mizzou Mandarin classes by breaking them up into three levels- Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. I’m currently taking Level 3, which is an absolute blast! I love being in a Mandarin class in which we speak absolutely no English (unless there’s the occasional question about an English word)! It’s not always been easy, but I’ve definitely grown a lot from it. We’ve learned about topics ranging from traditional Chinese art to traditional Chinese medicine to the Mid-autumn festival, and everything in between. This class also provides a unique perspective when we are discussing cultural differences since there are also some Japanese and Korean students in the class. Thus, we are able to compare differences not only between Chinese and American culture, but also those between Japanese and Korean culture.

Zhang Laoshi engages the Mizzou Mandarin Level 3 class about differences in education in China versus the West.

While the Mizzou Business Mandarin class is not broken up into levels, it remains comfortably small and, like Mizzou Mandarin, allows for plenty of time, also an hour and a half, to discuss and learn. This class facilitates conversation about Chinese culture in relation to business in terms of business etiquette, provides background to important Chinese business cities, such as that Shanghai has the moniker of ‘the magic city’, and teaches phrases important to doing business in China, such as how to book a hotel.

I’m constantly excited for the opportunities that these classes provide to build on the knowledge I learn in the Chinese classes I take for credit and am glad for the additional outlets they create for me to quench my thirst for knowledge of other cultures and languages (if that’s possible)! They have also been a great preparation tool for my study abroad trip that I’ll take this summer.

I will be studying in six Chinese cities for a month this year, from the end of May through the end of June, with the Trulaske College of Business. I cannot wait for this amazing opportunity! While I’ve been to China twice before and studied a lot about Chinese culture and Mandarin, I still do not know much about business in China. This trip will allow me to build on the foundation of knowledge I have about Chinese business while also giving me the chance to figure out more what area of business I want to pursue more specifically, for example finance versus economics. We will be visiting different companies, studying Mandarin, and will also see various tourist attractions such as the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall. Being able to deepen my knowledge about China, improve my Mandarin, and see what business is like in a place that I dream of doing business in one day, and so early in my college career, would not be possible without the support of the Mizzou Honors College and Stamps Foundation.

In front of a Buddha statue at Mount Emei in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. July, 2018.

I am so, so grateful for the amazing and enriching experiences Mizzou Stamps offers and can’t wait to see what happens!


– Rebecca Price, Stamps Scholar Class of 2022