From Our Eyes: Communicating Across Cultures Beatrice Lam (‘19) on her search for a cultural identity.
May 15, 2020
From Our Eyes showcases Wilkinson students’ first-hand accounts of their undergraduate and graduate experiences. This issue features Beatrice Lam (‘19), who graduated last year with a degree in a new joint major, Global Communication and World Languages. Read her story below.
I was born and raised in the bustling city that never sleeps: Hong Kong. I grew up in an international city which isn’t the only attribution to my multicultural background. My parents were born in Malaysia and all my family is there too, which is why I traveled there every year and held a part of that culture as my own.
I moved to California at the age of 15. The international environment in Hong Kong certainly prepared me for the culture shock of moving to a new country, and the move made me truly understand the importance of a multicultural background. But I struggled to find the “sweet spot” between all my cultural identities and how to incorporate my values into one cohesive identity. Not only was I finding it difficult to stay in touch with the values that made me feel Chinese, but I was also losing my fluency in one of my native languages. The struggle persisted throughout high school into my college years.
Luckily, Chapman classes like “Intercultural Communication” and my Chinese language classes t began to help me find the balance I was seeking. Initially, I planned to graduate with a degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Chinese, the latter coming from a realization that this would help me reclaim more of my Chinese roots.
One day my Chinese professor I-Ting Chao approached me with the possibility of a new major that combined my current Communication major and Chinese minor, called Global Communication and World Languages. It was a decision I didn’t even have to think twice about. As soon as the program became official, I switched.
This major proved to be a perfect fit for me, not only by showing me how to bridge the gap between Communication Studies and my culture, but also by opening many windows of opportunities to get involved with campus activities. From hosting the Taiwan Fair in collaboration with the Center for Global Education to working with Dr. Michelle Miller-Day on my Communication capstone to creating a Podcast with Professor Chao that integrates the concept of Communication Studies with Chinese and Western culture, this new major’s duality fulfilled a need that I was looking to gain from my college degree.
The Global Communication degree cultivated an open mindset and attitude towards my future path after Chapman. It led me to a post-graduate internship at Financial Times Chinese in Beijing. I joined their new Podcast department and was responsible for creating content that bridged together the Chinese and English language (which pretty much aligned with my degree, wouldn’t you say?). Today, I have found a passion for a career in assisting customers interested in buying and selling online businesses around the world.
It’s pretty amazing to think that I graduated with a degree in a major that didn’t exist when I first stepped into college. In the Global Communication and World Languages major, one can gain much more than just an academic degree but also an understanding of your role as a global citizen in our society. This is only the beginning of my journey in the global workplace and our global society, and I encourage you all to explore how you can be your best global citizen as well.