chapter  10.8
9 Pages

Classroom, immersion, and occupation

Forty years of learning Chinese language, society, and politics
WithDavid L. Wank

This chapter describes the author's engagements with Chinese language in each mode. Growing up during the Cold War made the author curious to know more about a "communist" country. This is how the author explains his decision to start studying Chinese as a sophomore at Oberlin College in the fall of 1976. Additional inspiration came from the example of his father's career as an historian of modern central Europe, which relied on knowledge of foreign languages and cultures. The author's professional use of Chinese started with graduate study of sociology at Harvard University from the fall of 1985. He had abandoned his original idea to study modern Chinese literature, in favor of a more experiential and fieldwork-based approach, such as he had experienced during his two years in China. Another new use of Chinese has stemmed from the author's observation of many new Japanese sushi restaurants in his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the early 2000s.