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Bilingual skills gives Chinese student wings to fly

Learning the English language while studying in America has opened her eyes and her mind to the value of being bilingual in ways she never could have imagined when she first began learning English as a youth in China, says Yanxing Wu, an international student studying at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. 

Wu's essay, "Roots and Wings," about her newly discovered appreciation for learning the English language earned her top honors in a statewide writing contest hosted by the Wisconsin Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages professional organization. The contest's theme was "Being bilingual/bicultural is important to me because ... "

Yanxing Wu's "Roots and Wings" essay follows. 

Roots and Wings 

By Yanxing Wu 

I am an international student from China. I speak Chinese and English. These two languages and cultures are both very important to me because they influence me a lot and make me who I am today. 

I was born in China. I would say that I am a very traditional Chinese. I have been influenced by my own culture since I was born. I learned a lot of good and important characteristics from my culture, such as honesty, kindness and loyalty.

I've been learning the Chinese language since I was born, and I'll keep learning it. The Chinese language is such a beautiful language with a long history and was developed upon people's wisdom.

My home country gives me the roots of what I should do to achieve success, and of loving my family, my friends and my home country. This is how my own culture and native language influence me.

Every student in China is required to learn English and a little bit of other cultures. 

So English has been important to me since I became a student. I thought that English is important to me because I needed to get good grades on the exams when I was in China. Now I am in the U.S., using English almost every moment of everyday. And I realize that I didn't get the real meaning of learning English well.  

After staying in the U.S. for almost a year, I realize that English makes me open my mind to learn more cultures. I communicate with people from Japan, Saudi Arabia, Europe, America and many other countries when I am in America, and I learned a lot of good characteristics and knowledge from these different cultures. 

This makes me accept and understand some behaviors that I would never understand if I had just stayed in China. It also makes me more thoughtful and considerate. 

I've never loved learning English and other cultures like this before. When I was in China, I learned English just to get good grades on the exams and I didn't truly love it. In America, I learn English and use English to make friends, to learn about more cultures, make myself a better person and for academic study. I am using English as a tool. 

So English and the experience of being in the U.S. gives me the wings to accept more knowledge, to grow the curiosity to learn more and to travel more. 

In short, Chinese and English are both important to me because Chinese gives me the roots and English gives me the wings. And I'll keep learning them.