Wang Peng, Li You & Transmitting Ideas Across Cultures

Studying a foreign language takes you from a to b, but what’s in the middle? For Marian Stacey that space in the middle was discovering a world of ideas previously inaccessible to her. From a humble beginning in the CET JanTerm 2011 A-ban (first year) level, she pursued her Chinese studies all the way to a master’s in Chinese literature. In her words, it was going from “See spot run” to complicated texts rich with historical references. After completing her master’s at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, she now works on the marketing team for the textbook company Cheng & Tsui, which publishes the definitive textbook for Chinese language study: Integrated Chinese 中文听说读写. In our podcast, she describes how kismet*, yuan fen 缘分, (fate) brought her to use her Chinese skills to market the very book series that helped her build those skills. We reflect on the cultish reverence for textbook characters shared by learners of Chinese and Arabic and speculate on the insinuated romances between the characters.

Marian describes how learning Chinese changed the way she approaches communication—she no longer takes it for granted. She talks about her passion for translation because it allows people who would otherwise not have access to Chinese literature to learn about China. Similar to the integrated approach to language learning at Cheng and Tsui, Marian takes an integrated approach to translation, situating the author’s ideas in the historical context, philosophical context, and communicative context. She also shares how a cultural misunderstanding serendipitously put her in the right place at the right time and unexpectedly created one of her most memorable moments in China.

Join us for our first episode recorded “on location” at the Career Integration Conference in Boston!

Marian Stacey is an alumna of the Intensive Chinese Language in Beijing Janterm and Spring 2011 program. She studied at Clark College and the Hopkins Nanjing Center, and completed her master’s in Chinese literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She currently works for the Boston-based textbook company, Cheng and Tsui.

NB- We referred to hilarious textbook memes on social media for both Integrated Chinese and the popular Arabic textbook Al-Kitab. You’ll find tons if you search the internet but here are a few of them:
Integrated Chinese on Tumblr
Blog dedicated to an Al Kitab character

*fun side note- kismet, meaning fate or destiny, comes to English through Turkish but is originally derived from Arabic qisma meaning “lot” or “portion”. We didn’t realize this during the interview, but Marian was speaking Arabic without knowing it!

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