Gilman Scholarship recipient spends semester in China

Panoramic view of the mountaintops at 神农架

View of the mountaintops at 神农架 (Shennongjia)

Senior Xin Dong was awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship to fund her semester abroad in China.

The chemical engineering major is one of five Miami students who received the Gilman Scholarship this year. This scholarship is available to students who receive Pell Grants to help fund their study abroad experiences.

Dong, who went on the Engineering & Computing in Dynamic India winter term trip last year, credits the Miami study abroad advisors as being instrumental in finding funding for both trips. She wants other students to know that no matter what your financial situation is, studying abroad at Miami is possible.

Xin Dong's favorite street food 

Xin Dong's favorite street
food in Beijing

“When I first came to Miami and sat in the orientation and they talked about study abroad, I honestly didn’t think I would ever do it because of my income. Now I have gone on two trips and haven’t paid a dime,” she said.

Dong, a first generation Chinese-American, chose to spend the fall 2017 semester in a CET language immersion program to learn Chinese well enough to communicate with her extended family.

Unlike many study abroad programs for Americans, this program teaches classes in Chinese and discourages students from using English elsewhere. Even at home students speak in Chinese with their Chinese roommate.

Dong was also interested in learning more about her parents’ culture and chose Beijing specifically because it was less like the U.S. than Shanghai.

“I was hoping for culture shock,” Dong said.

Old Summer Palace

圆明园 (Old Summer Palace)           

Dong, who will return to Ohio in December, has explored China with and without her classmates. Some of her excursions include:

  • Touring the 798 Art Zone of Beijing, which is in a complex that used to be a military factory 
  • Hiking along the unrestored Chenjiapu section of the Great Wall
  • Exploring the ruins of the Old Summer Palace, which was destroyed by British and French troops in 1860

Her favorite part of the entire experience?

“The feeling here is a lot more humble than in the U.S. Everyone here is content with what they have. It’s a more simple life,” she said.

By Paige Smith