American teen embarks on unique journey to China

CCTV News

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When he was around 4 years old, Allen Hill was on a mission. “I would tell myself when I grew up that I was going to be Chinese. I said I’m going to be like Jackie Chan when I grow up. Until I realized I wasn’t born Chinese,” Hill said.

CCTV America’s Frances Kuo reports.

American teen embarks on unique journey to China

American teen embarks on unique journey to China

When he was around 4 years old, Allen Hill was on a mission. "I would tell myself when I grew up that I was going to be Chinese. I said I'm going to be like Jackie Chan when I grow up. Until I realized I wasn't born Chinese," Hill said. CCTV America’s Frances Kuo reports.

Allen thought the closest he could get would be learning the Chinese language and culture. But, he’s the kind of student who finishes what he starts. He completed all three levels of mandarin offered at Washington’s McKinley Tech High School, where he was taught by teacher Jen Wang.

“He would want to make that extra effort to learn, how to say things, how to do things,” Wand said.

It was that drive that got the attention of Ms. Wang.

When she learned about a full, five-year scholarship available to study at Beijing’s Language and Culture University and Minzu Normal University of china, she immediately nominated Allen.

“He was the only candidate, the only student that came to my mind when I saw the opportunity,” said Jen Wang.

For Allen, it was a personal loss that’s pushing him to succeed.

“My grandma passed 2 days after I graduated, when her and I would talk, I said I could go to China from school, she told me that was great. She used to travel a lot, so after she passed, I just kept telling myself: I’m going to China. I’m going to go to China,” he said.

The very first year the school offered Chinese, Allen was among the first students to enroll.

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Carola McGiffert on Chinese education in the US

For more about the organization which made Allen Hill journey possible and growing trends in mandarin language education in the U.S., CCTV America’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Carola McGiffert, president and CEO of the US-China Strong Foundation.