Drexel University is making a global impact thanks to one student. Bianca Walker, a senior global studies major from the College of Arts and Sciences, has recently accepted her first post-graduate offer — and it’s in China. Walker’s love of Chinese language culture has inspired her to move back to Shanghai and become a teacher herself.
Starting in September, Walker will work for The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a non-profit organization that promotes international education. In her position, she will be tasked with teaching English to Chinese students, which may range from elementary to college aged students. Walker will spend one year in the country before returning to the United States.
CIEE first reached out to Walker after she studied abroad in Shanghai, requesting that she teach for them. The choice was an easy one for her, as she considers her time abroad one of the most rewarding aspects of her undergraduate career. In Shanghai, Walker was able to master her already-advanced Chinese language skills and immerse herself in a culture which she has grown to love.
“I think the picture painted about China makes the country seem as though it’s a very closed off society and unwelcoming to foreigners, which I found completely untrue. I think the people were just as curious about me as I was about them, which created the platform for really warm and open interactions with the local people,” she said.
Walker’s interest in China began long before her time at Drexel. She was drawn to Asian culture through an early exposure to anime and Asian music, and she found the languages intriguing due to their striking differences from English. When Mandarin was offered to her for the first time at her high school as a junior, Walker eagerly began studying. The more she learned, the more she found herself committed to learning about Chinese culture.
The time that Walker spent studying abroad in China took her understanding of Chinese language and culture to another level. As she quickly integrated into their society, speaking the language became a natural reflex — and communicating became a highlight of her everyday life. She and her Taiwanese roommate grew close as they spoke in Mandarin about all the things they had in common, including a love for spicy foods and Korean pop music. Despite their initial language barrier, the two continue to keep in touch.
The global studies senior will bring with her a wide range of work experience that she has attained in her time at Drexel. Her first co-op was at the Global Philadelphia Association, a leading international organization in the region. Her second co-op was with the Project Management Institute, where she was able to apply her language skills when translating certification exams between English and Mandarin. Most recently, she was an administrative paralegal at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, which has influenced her decision to pursue a law degree upon returning from China.
Walker has many things that she is looking forward to — like the food and visiting her study abroad roommate who currently resides in Shanghai. As for the program, she is excited to meet the students and to learn from them as much as she plans to teach them. And although this isn’t her first time in China, it won’t stop Walker from making the most of her time there. She is excited to travel to new cities, meet new people and explore new aspects of the culture that she didn’t previously get the opportunity to experience.
“I’m excited to see what new things I discover that I may have missed the first time,” she said.
By Caitlin Walczyk, a senior global studies and political science double major with minors in German and Russian in the College of Arts and Sciences and a Pennoni Honors College student, as part of the winter 2018 "Writing for Drexel Publication" Pennoni Honors College course.