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Chinese Tradition meets New England Character

August, 2009

Yongwei Ding

The Exchange Visitor Program is proud to announce Yongwei Ding as this issue's Exchange Visitor of the Month. Each month, we select an exchange visitor who has made an effort to get involved in his/her community and explore American Culture.

Yongwei Ding, 26 of San Dun, China, is a J-1 exchange visitor training in Boston, MA in the field of Computer Science. Yongwei has been enjoying life in Boston since his arrival in May of this year, and especially appreciates the nice locals he meets and the great summer weather. Yongwei has also taken great strides in sharing his Chinese culture with friends and colleagues.

When Yongwei isn't sitting in front of a computer, he's taking advantage of Boston's great East Coast location and prominent role in American history. Yongwei has found that his trips outside of work have helped him to understand "the American culture as well as the American spirit." Ding has made a point to visit historically significant sites in and around the city and recently visited the town of Lexington, Massachusetts, famous for being the location of the first skirmish in the American Revolutionary War.

"I remember the first time I heard the name of Lexington was in middle school," said Yongwei, noting that at that time "it became one of my dreams that one day I could get the chance to visit Lexington to experience American history." Many years later, Yongwei was not disappointed with the visit he had been long anticipating: "the National Heritage Museum is really worth going," he says.

In addition to learning about American culture, Yongwei makes it a goal of his program to share his Chinese culture with his colleagues. While there are many ways that trainees and interns are able to share their culture, Yongwei has come up with a few great ideas. These include giving an explanation of Chinese symbolic characters, introducing his colleagues to traditional Chinese food and tea, and having discussions with them about any topics that they are interested in. In a reversal of the common Chinese practice of choosing an "American" name when learning English, traveling to the US, or interacting with Americans, Yongwei has chosen to assign each of his colleagues a Chinese name, and has taught his peers the Chinese characters for their new monikers.

Because of his own experience training in the United States, Yongwei's best advice to other J-1 trainees and interns is to "be confident, express yourself and learn from others" during your time as an exchange visitor in the US.