By Ala Kaymaram
Ying Gao, a professor of Chinese Language, has been teaching at WCC since Fall 2016.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and when did you start teaching at WCC?
A: I have been teaching here since last year, 2016. Fall 2016 was my first semester at Washtenaw Community College. Before that, I tutored at the University of Michigan Chinese Studies Center. I tutored Ph.D and master’s students. This is my first teaching job.
Q: Where did you go to college and what did you study?
A: I finished my college in China. My major was Japanese and education with a focus on social studies.
Q: How did you decide to choose education as your major?
A: That’s interesting. When I was an undergraduate student in China, I started helping many students from foreign countries. I tutored many students from different countries: from America to Japan or other European countries. I am really interested in teaching: teaching students from foreign countries.
Q: How did you decide to study Japanese?
A: That was my passion from the beginning. I worked in Japan for several years. And I love speaking Japanese and learning about the Japanese culture. That’s the reason I chose to major in Japanese.
Q: How many languages do you speak?
A: Three: Chinese, Japanese, and English.
Q: What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
A: There are a lot of things. When I see my students speak very well, and when I see that they are really happy to know more about the Chinese culture. This is the best part. Because if you don’t know the language it is probably hard to understand the culture. So I am really glad that they know the language and also they use the language to learn about the culture and customs.
Q: Does being a foreigner help you relate to your students?
A: Yes, I know what they need to know. And I know the problem that they are facing. And I can help them to solve the problems that they individually face.
Q: For someone who wants to learn Chinese, or any other foreign language, what advice would you give him or her?
A: Work hard. Work hard. Practice and open your mouth and don’t be shy.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I like to travel. In China we have a philosopher who says, you can read a thousand books, but it’s better to go traveling. That’s really important. That’s why I like traveling to different countries and regions. I like meeting people, meeting residents, and asking questions from them. I want to live with them for a while to know more about their culture.
Q: What countries have you traveled to?
A: Mostly Asian countries. I haven’t been to Europe yet, but maybe next summer. My kids will go to Spain, and I plan to go with them.