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Henrietta Yang Introduces Chinese Language to Morehouse Students

Henrietta Yang

Henrietta Shu-Fen Yang remembers the talk about 20th century People’s Republic of China (commonly known as China) becoming a future player on the political and economic world stage.

“I had been hearing that the 21st century would be China’s century,” said Yang, who goes by Henrietta. “Well, there’s no doubt that China has gotten stronger and stronger in politics and the economy.”

Because of that, Yang hopes to get the men of Morehouse out front on the global surge of interest in Chinese business, trade and culture. Yang, an assistant professor of Chinese, is the new director of Chinese Studies at Morehouse.

With the ever-increasing potential that students could someday be working or doing business in China – the world’s most populated country with 1.3 billion people – Yang will be teaching mandarin Chinese, which is spoken by nearly three-fourths of the people in China. That makes it the world’s most-spoken, indigenous language.

The XXIX Summer Olympics in Beijing also gave the world audience a good look at the glistening and modern Chinese capital city.

“Because of business and the economy, there is lots of interaction – plus the world has gotten smaller and smaller (because of the Internet),” she said. “The Chinese market has drawn people there. And in order to do business in China, you have to speak their language and understand their culture.”

Anthony Pinder, executive director of the Andrew Young Center for International Studies believes bringing Yang to Morehouse is the right step in the College’s increasingly-international direction.

“We are at a point in the College’s history where we are really focusing on producing globally competent graduates who are proficient in languages and are exposed to multiple cultures around the world,” he said. “For an institution… Chinese fits naturally. We have to begin looking at other parts of the world that are serious partners in our major interests. And if we are to train globally competent leaders, we have to make sure we are training a diverse amount of globally competent leaders.”

Yang is a native of Taiwan who came to the United States to study linguistics. She had already studied journalism in Taipei, but developed a love for linguistics and in teaching Chinese language and culture.

She comes to Morehouse after teaching stints at the University of Texas-Austin and most recently the Defense Language Institute’s Department of Chinese in Monterey, Calif., where she had been teaching team leader. “I think (Morehouse) is a very good place to create my ideal language program,” said Yang, who will incorporate new technology in teaching mandarin Chinese. “I was impressed by our students. It is the whole package and makes me feel like this is the place I want to be.”

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