Cherubs reflect on their experiences in different languages

The Medill cherub program welcomed students from China, Qatar, Vietnam and South Korea, who brought new perspectives and languages to the Institute. Here are their views on what it is like to be a bilingual (or trilingual) cherub. You can read their comments in English while listening to them in their first languages.

Quan Pham, Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnamese

Male smiling and sitting on a bench

Photo by Grace Deng

“It gives me a more worldwide approach to everything because I can look at things that they do here from a perspective of someone from Vietnam. And I can look back at the things we do in Vietnam with the perspective of someone from America. So I have those two perspectives that build upon each other.

“Everyone here has the same mindset and passion as I do. So when I want to talk about something journalism-related, or if I want to talk about the newspaper, I can literally find any of the cherubs and talk to them about that subject. And they would happily respond. What kind of high school kids in their right minds would suddenly like to talk about journalism?”

Kirsten Huh, Seoul, South Korea

Korean

Female smiling and sitting on a bench

Photo by Grace Deng

“It’s my first time interacting with so many different international kids because back at my school, even though it’s called an international school, it’s 99 percent Korean. So I didn’t really have a chance to engage with people other than Koreans. I was able to do that here and realize that even though culture is a big part, it doesn’t really separate people.

“I thought we would have a lot of differences because I’ve been living in Korea for such a long time, but everyone was really welcoming. I was able to introduce a lot of Asian culture to my friends. I tell them a lot about K-pop, and I took them to a Korean restaurant. I also introduced them to boba tea, and they really liked it.”

Bilal Ahmad, Doha, Qatar

Arabic

Male smiling and sitting on a bench

Photo by Grace Deng

“Learning here at cherubs, being an international student, you get to meet people that have different backgrounds and that have different experiences than you, and it’s really nice learning from those people.

“Having the opportunity to spend a lot of time on English is also improving my writing and speaking in English. Improving my vocabulary is something I’ve done here at cherubs.

“I never had an interesting experience in the U.S. before this. This is my first time here alone as well. It’s nice to see that, in the cherub community, people are accepting of international students from the Middle East, and they’re really interested in our learning about me, and in turn I’m really interested in learning about them.”

Eileen Chen, Hefei Anhui, China

Mandarin

Female smiling and sitting on a bench

Photo by Grace Deng

“I have unique perspectives on class material. I have a new understanding of journalism. One is the libel lab by Roger. The other is the photo ethics by Joe. The libel is particularly interesting because the libel laws and media laws in China are completely different from that in America. Even libel itself is defined slightly different than in America.

“I can never understand why cherubs laugh out loud in the auditorium when they hear a joke. The afternoon when Kim Kardashian was in the video and everyone was laughing, literally every moment, I was super confused. I had no idea what was happening around, but later I learned when people laugh, I just follow them. Most of time, it is not a fake laugh, because when cherubs are laughing, they are so funny. They really enjoy the moment. I laugh because I saw them laugh, not because I understand the joke.”

Lyn Wu, Shanghai, China

Mandarin

Female smiling and sitting on a bench

Photo by Grace Deng

“It’s definitely cool to introduce my culture to to my friends here at the States. I remember one time, my friends and I went to a hot pot place, and that was the first they had hot pot, which I usually have back in China. It was super cool to see them wonder how food could be cooked that way. I also learned from my friends, so I think it’s definitely cool to be an international student and to see the cultural immersion happening on a daily basis with my friends.”

Dylan Carlson-Sirvent, Upper Arlington, Ohio

Originally from León, Guanajuato, Mexico

Spanish and French

Male smiling and sitting on a bench

Photo by Grace Deng

“In my daily life, it’s helped me a lot because I can talk to people in Spanish or in English or French, so that opens the possibilities of people I can talk to. In journalism, it’s helped me a lot because I had to interview several people who were fact-checkers in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil. I was able to interview them all in Spanish, which is better because you can have a more authentic interview.

“With French, I was able to interview several fact-checkers in Africa, so it just opens the realms of possibilities of people you can talk to. Sometimes, I trip over my words in English, and sometimes I have trouble enunciating.

“In Spanish, I feel a lot more comfortable. In English, sometimes I’m afraid that they might not understand what I say. Even though I have the disadvantage of not being able to speak it perfectly, I think the advantages of just having the language outweighs the disadvantage of that.”