This year, Pacific University hired Carol Gwo, the new Chinese language professor, following the retirement of the previous professor, Lily Tsang.
Professor Gwo moved from Taiwan to the United States in 1981. She took on various jobs until she realized that teaching was her true passion. She returned to school and studied abroad in Beijing to get her Masters in Education, where she specialized in teaching Chinese as a second language. After graduating, she began teaching at Chemeketa Community College (CCC). Currently, she teaches at both CCC and Pacific University. While Chinese can be a difficult language to learn, Professor Gwo tells her students that it is not as intimidating as it may seem.
“I often encourage students to think that speaking the Chinese language is like singing a song,” said Professor Gwo. “[Using] the four different tones, you create a melody.”
In Chinese, the four tones are essential in communicating effectively. However, it is also one of the most difficult components for non-native speakers to learn.
“I won’t lie, the Chinese language is hard to learn, but every language is hard to learn,” said Emma Peterson, a sophomore minoring in Chinese. “The tones can be intimidating, but your professor will help you a lot. Also you don’t have to conjugate verbs.”
Professor Gwo hopes to bring more attention to the Chinese program this year through many different cultural events, such as dumpling making, calligraphy, and Chinese medicine presentations. Pacific has a large number of students interested in healthcare and Professor Gwo has collaborated with the Chinese Qilin club to create opportunities for learning about Chinese medicine in their Chinese Wellness Series.
“Once they [become] interested in learning about Chinese culture, it probably would create interest in learning the language as well,” said Professor Gwo.
Tara Tomita, a sophomore minoring in Chinese, has been learning the language since she was in sixth grade. While she did not want to learn it at first, she is glad she has learned about a culture different than her own.
“It is a beautiful thing to learn about a culture that is not your own. While I wanted to learn Japanese, learning about a new, unfamiliar language and culture is eye-opening and just overall a great experience,” said Tomita. Professor Gwo and the Chinese Qilin Club have already hosted their first event celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. Some future events include a presentation on Acupuncture on Thurs., Oct. 21, and a Dumpling Making party on Fri., Nov. 12. — Allison Wills
Allison Wills is a sophomore and a writer for the Index. She plays the saxophone in the symphonic band at Pacific. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends, listening to music, and volunteering at the hospice.