This article is a part of the East-West Center - US-China Strong Foundation Guest Contributor Program, which shares the experiences of American students currently or previously studying in China.
The world is changing. We are at the height of technical innovation and cultural awareness. In the 21st century, everything has gotten faster and everyone is more connected. While speed is a feat that can be attributed to machinery, the increase in connectedness is a human achievement. As time progressed, we realized the importance of collaboration, but not just on a local or national level: on a global scale.
It is human nature to cluster. We form groups based on common traits and common interests. The more ambitious our goals become, the bigger our groups become. We have moved past our sectional identities and started to adopt a global one. As we continue to move forward, that global identity is playing a bigger role. We see countries and continents coming together to advance technology, medicine, and education. And nothing is more beneficial to our global collaboration than language.
Language is a concept that can make or break collaboration. The more two regions understand each other, the more effectively they can collaborate. For instance, have you tried to give directions to someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you or tried to assemble furniture using a manual in a foreign language? It’s hard. When you remove language, that essential element, you can’t articulate your point clearly. Even when speaking the same language as someone else, it’s imperative to be as clear as possible to avoid any potential errors.
More specifically, learning Chinese is becoming an increasingly important skill. As time progresses, the relationship between the United States and China only gets stronger. Whether in trade, energy, environmental protection or agriculture, the United States and China are continually building upon their long standing relationship. The more the two countries collaborate, the more important it becomes for Americans to learn Chinese. Knowing Chinese today confers countless job and travel opportunities, and allows communication and collaboration with millions of people worldwide. In ten years, the imperative to being able to speak Chinese will be insurmountable. As we come together to tackle the world’s big issues and push technological innovation further, knowing Chinese will be an essential skill.
Czar Carson is part of the US-China Strong Foundation Student Ambassador Program.