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My journey studying Chinese began during my first semester at Florida State University in the Fall of 2000. Throughout my career an International Affairs student, I continued to study Chinese language, listerature, history, and culture. For my final semester, I attended FSU's first International Program to China at the Tianjin Foreign Studies University. Two of my classmates and I loved our time there so much that we decided to stay at the university and enroll independently. So what was supposed to be a six week, highly intensive summer program turned into a more than a year of studying Mandarin Chinese in-country. While a student at TFSU, I taught several English courses, tutored English privately, as well as judged English speech competitions.

Although I was new to both teaching and tutoring, I learned several invaluable lessons. Teachers need to be calm, patient, creative, adaptable to various learning styles, and also passionate about the subjects they teach. I strive to be all of those. I enjoy tutoring because it allows the student to create personal goals (as opposed to a mandatory curriculum) and can often result in a more rewarding experience.

Upon returning to the United States, I began applying to the Peace Corps. Even though I had my heart set on joining Peace Corps China, I received the honor of being amongst the first group posted to Cambodia. My fellow Volunteers and I taught English as a Foreign Language at rural high schools around the country. In addition to classroom teaching, I co-taught small classes at a local Wat with the head monk, and on weekends, offered extra help to students who were unable to afford private classes. Throughout all those experiences, the best lesson I learned for teaching is that patience and kindness goes a long way.

My career as a native English-speaking teacher brought me to Incheon, South Korea where I taught Oral English to first year students at an all girls high school. During this time, I earned my teacher's certificate and improved upon my student-centered teaching methodology. Hopefully, my lessons became both more practical and more fun. Language should help the speakers communicate their thoughts and ideas about their passions and hobbies, help them make friends, and understand the world around them, in addition to helping them take care of their daily tasks and necessities.

Although work opportunities allowed me to travel to various countries, my desire to learn and live in Chinese never waned. After I returned the US from South Korea, I dove head first into Middlebury College's full-immersion, summer language program. I used this opportunity not only to regain, but to improve upon my Chinese language skills.

The confidence and know-how I gained at Middlebury helped me while earning a Postgraduate Diploma in Chinese-English Translation from the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand. At this point, I was ready and eager to return to China, so I applied again to the Peace Corps. This time, Peace Corps did send me to China as a Response Volunteer. The year and a half I taught English in Gansu Province was one of the most exciting times in my life. My students, community members, and other Volunteers taught me so much about Chinese language and culture and now I would love to pass on that knowledge to other non-native Chinese learners. I took so many side-streets and detours on my way to fluency,
Foreign language learning is incredibly challenging, but the rewards from accepting those challenges are incredible. And as Lao Zi once said, "A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step."

When I'm not reading Chinese history and folk tales, I love fitness and playing drums. I love movies.

Wow! I think that covers it!

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Sarah’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Florida State University - Bachelor in Arts, International Affairs

Graduate Degree: University of Auckland - Unknown, Translation Studies


fitness, healthy food, music, drums, guitar

Tutoring Subjects

College English

Conversational Mandarin



High School English


Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese 1

Mandarin Chinese 2

Mandarin Chinese 3

Mandarin Chinese 4

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