Project GO

This summer I spent 6 weeks studying Chinese at Boston University for free. How did I do I that? I did it by applying through Project GO.

Project GO (Global Officers) is a program that offers scholarships to ROTC students (contracted or not) to study a critical language intensively and study abroad in countries in Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. To apply to Project Go, you must select a language that you would like to study and an university that has that language program.

The languages that you can choose from are:

Arabic, Azeri, Chinese, Hausa, Hindi-Urdu, Kazakh, Korean, Pashto, Persian, Russian, Swahili, Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Uzbek, and Wolof.

If you’re a beginner in the language you choose to study, you will first study in a host university in the United States for about 6 weeks if you’re chosen for a scholarship. If you receive a B- or above in the course, not only will you receive college credit but also you can apply again for Project GO to study abroad the following year. For example, this summer I received an A for my Chinese course at Boston University.  Next year I can apply again to study abroad in Shanghai through Boston University.

In my opinion, Project GO is a great program and I highly recommend it to any ROTC cadet. When I went to Boston University this summer, there were 5 of us cadets total. I, however, was the only one who actually had some experience with Chinese in the past. So, I was placed in the second semester Chinese course. I had class 4 times a week, Monday through Thursday, from 2 to 4:30. Everyday we had quizzes, review from the previous lesson, and then we started the new lesson. Each week we went through 2 lessons (with 2 parts in each lesson), covering 10 chapters by the end of the course. Not only that, I had to meet up with my tutor twice a week. And on weekends, the other Project GO students and I were to able to do some activities like go to Chinatown and go to a Chinese restaurant, try to order and speak in Chinese, learn how to make Chinese dumplings, try Qigong, walk on the Freedom trail, and so on. This, however, is only my experience of Project GO. Each university and each program is different. And everyone will have their own experience, intake, and outtake of the program.

If you want to apply or want more information on the program, here is the Project GO website:

Boston skyline



North South East West

It’s been about 8 months since I’ve last written anything in this blog. But you can’t really blame me once I tell you what I’ve been up to these days..

Since the start of the year, I’ve been to Oklahoma for Army basic training, Missouri for AIT training, back home to Pennsylvania, Wildwood Beach, New Jersey for vacation, Virginia and South Carolina for vacation and a wedding, to Boston, Massachusetts to study Chinese for the summer, and just recently in Maine for a short day trip. Soon I’ll be going back to West Virginia to start school again, and to end my year I’m off to Japan.

This year has definitely been busy for me, but traveling is what I do best. And I’ll find time again to post more about what I’ve experienced, the different programs that are out there, and so on.

Rainbow Row in Charleston, South Carolina

Rainbow Row in Charleston

Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

Boone Hall Plantation

Boston, Massachusetts


Ogunquit, Maine

Ogunquit Maine

Chinese Dumplings

I have less than one week until I depart for Germany, and in exactly one week I will arrive in Germany! To keep my mind off my anxiousness, I decided to write about Chinese dumplings. Why? I absolutely love dumplings, and I especially love Chinese dumplings.

So today I will be writing about the five types of Chinese dumplings (and buns) I mostly came across (and ate) while I was in China: baozi, tangbao, xiaolongbao, jiaozi, hundun (aka wonton).

包子 Baozi is a steam filled bun. Baozi is filled with either meat or vegetable fillings. Two types of baozi are 大包 dabao (big dumplings) and 小包 xiaobao (small dumplings).


汤包 Tangbao (“soup dumping”) is a large baozi filled with soup and meat (usually). There are two forms of tangbao. The first (traditional) looks like a regular baozi, and is directly bitten into and drunken. The second (modern) is that the soup liquid is drunken by a straw and the skin is eaten afterwards. Tangbao is my favorite Chinese dish. 我要吃汤包!

soup dumpling

小笼包 Xiaolongbao (small basket buns) is a small baozi that is steamed in a small bamboo basket.


校子 Jiaozi is a dumpling that is filled with meat and vegetable filling. It is wrapped with a thin piece of dough, and is compressed and compressed with the fingers. There are three types of jiaozi: steamed, boiled, pan fried.


馄炖 Hundun (wonton-Cantonese) is a type of dumpling usually filled with meat. It is usually mixed with spices, salt, and garlic or green onion. Wontons are boiled or deep-fried. In China, each region has its own variation (Beijing, Sichuan, Ningbo, Shanghai, Cantonese..).


Chinese: I Love You

For Americans, it is quite easy to say the words, “I love you.” However, this is not the case for many Chinese. The Chinese rarely say the words, “I love you.” In fact, some Chinese are even suspicious at these words.

Children and their parents and couples (married or not) here in the United States often exchange I love you‘s to each other, but not for the Chinese. After reading an article about this topic (see down below), the Chinese do not express their love through words and declarations. In this article, a woman named Zhao Mengmeng says that she never told her parents I love you to their face. She says that she only says I love you to her husband, “once a year, or twice every three years.”

The Chinese believe that actions are louder than words. Confucian traditional beliefs are that the parents should strive to provide their children with a good life while the children should respect and obey their parents. And also, sacrifice.

You might be wondering, “What is the Chinese word for love?” The Chinese word for love is 爱 (ai or eye-if that’s better). I love you is 我爱你 (wo ai ni).



Lunar New Year

Happy Lunar New Year’s! 새해 복 많이 받으세요! 新年快樂!

오늘은 설날이다! Today is the Lunar New Year! Can you feel the excitement? Some of you might be asking, what exactly is Lunar New Year’s? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Lunar New Year is the first day of the lunar calendar. Lunar calendar? There’s more than one type of calendar? Yes, there is actually. In America, we follow the Gregorian calendar (365 days a year, leap year every 4 years, 12 months, 28-31 days each month). The Lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon-hence the lunar. The first day of a lunar month varies. For the Chinese calendar, the first day is when a new moon occurs during a particular time zone. For the Hindi calendar, the first is the day after the full moon.Each month is approximately 29.530589 days.

lunar calendar

*Note: I’m not an expert on this, click on this website if you want to read more on lunar calendars:

Moving on now. I’m sure a lot of you heard of the Chinese New Year (a.k.a. the Chinese Lunar New Year)The Lunar New Year is celebrated by more than the just the Chinese. The Lunar New Year is also celebrated by the Koreans, Tibetans, Vietnamese, and the Mongolians. Of course, Lunar New Year celebrations are not solely held in China, Vietnam, South and North Korea, etc. There are Chinese, Koreans, Tibetans, Vietnamese, and Mongolians living throughout the world in different countries. The Chinese community in Indonesia and Malaysia celebrates the Lunar New Year, Chinese-Americans/Korean-Americans/Vietnamese-Americans (and so forth) in the United States celebrate the Lunar New Year, you get my point right?

If you noticed from years past, the Lunar New Year is never on the same day. Lunar New Year is the first day of the Lunar Year and like I said before, the calendar is based on the phases of the moon. So every year, the days will never be exactly the same as the year before. The Lunar New Year this year is February 10, 2013 (hence the reason for this post). In this post, I’m mainly going to focus on the Chinese New Year and Korean New Year.

Chinese New Year: 新年快樂! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy New Year in Mandarin, which actually means “congratulations and prosperity.” (*There’s numerous ways to say Happy New Year in Mandarin, not just Gong Xi Fa Cai.” This year is the year of the snake.

year of snake

chinese zodiac

The twelve zodiac signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig/boar.

The Chinese New Year (also known as the Spring Festival) is the time for celebrations which includes feasts, music, red envelopes, gift exchange, visiting relatives, fireworks, dances, decorations/ornaments, and lots of symbolism.

Food, of course, plays an important role in the Chinese New Year celebration (as it does for any culture or celebration. The Chinese eat foods that are symbolic. Here are SOME foods for instance:

Spring rolls and jiao zi symbolize wealth.

spring rolls


Chicken symbolizes happiness and marriage.

chinese new year chicken

Noodles symbolize a good life.

chinese new year noodles

Eggs symbolizes fertility. (Tea eggs)

tea eggs

Pomelo represents abundance, prosperity, and fertility.


Niangao symbolizes raising oneself “higher” in the coming year.

nian gao

Red Envelopes: During the Chinese New Year, red envelopes /紅包 hongbao (usually decorated with gold characters-happiness and wealth ) filled with money are given to children, young people, and unmarried adults with no jobs from the older generations. The envelopes are red, because red symbolizes luck. Red envelopes are also given out on birthdays and weddings, and the amount of money depends on the recipient’s age and the relationship between giver-recipient.

red envelope2

red envelopes

Dances: There are two types of dances: dragon dances and lion dances. Dragon dances are performed to scare away the evil spirits. The Chinese view dragons as helpful and friendly creatures and symbolize luck, long life, and wisdom. is thought that the longer dragons are more lucky than smaller dragons. During the dragon dance, many people are needed to operate the dragon. The lion dance only needs two people to operate the lion. There are two types of “lion styles.” The Chinese Northern Lions (northern China)-northern lions have shaggy orange and yellow hair with a green bow (males) or red bow (females). This dance usually have more acrobatic movements and have stunts.The Southern Lion (southern China) resembles the Nian (a fierce horned monster). Its head is shaped like a dragon and has a drape. During performance, the Southern Lion thrusts its head to the sound of the drums and other percussion instruments. The colors of the dragon is usually red (bravery), gold (lively and dynamic spirit), and green (friendship and goodwill).

dragon dance

lion dance

dragon dance

Decorations/Ornaments: Chunlian, lanterns, paper cuttings, Chinese calligraphy


red lanterns

paper cuttings

The Chinese New Year  is a celebrated for 15 days. To read what happens each day, click on the link below:

The Lantern Festival ends the 15 day celebration.

lantern festival

lantern dragon

lantern castle

Alright, now let’s talk about the Korean New Year.

Korean New Year: The Korean New Year (know as 설날/seollal) is also the first day of the lunar calendar. Seollal is a three day celebration. Koreans also celebrate the solar/Gregorian New Year’s Day, but Seollal is a more important national holiday. Seollal is more of a family holiday. It is a time to pay respects to the ancestors and catch up with family members. During Seollal, Koreans wear hanboks (I’ll make a post on this later), perform ancestral rites, play folk games, give gifts, tell stories, and eat traditional foods.

Ancestral Rites: The morning is first start off with 제사/ancestral rite ceremony. Family members wearing their hanboks will gather in front of a ritual table and will place an ancestral tablet and ritual foods according to the ancestral laws on the table. Afterwards, the ancestral rites begin with 세배/ deep bows  to the ancestors. Children will do 세배 to the elders (parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents/etc) and the elders will give them money as a Seollal gift. They will then proceed with offerings and prayers. After saying farewell, all will eat the ritual foods. The main dish eaten is 떡국/ddeokgook (rice cake soup). After you eat 떡국, you are one year older. So some children will eat two bowls, so they will be two years older. After eating, children will perform 세배 to the elders (parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents/etc) and the elders will give them 세뱃돈/ New Year’s money as a gift

ancestral food


After eating, the younger generation will pay respects to the elders. They take a deep bow and present the elders with gifts. The elders accept and offer them their offerings and blessings for a prosperous year.

Folk games: After doing ancestral rites, Korean will often play folk games. Some of these games are yutnori, jegichagi, neolttwigi, and paengichigi.

윷놀이/Yutnori-board game played with sticks



제기차기/Jegichagi-game played with the foot


널뛰기Neolttwigi-seesaw game


파엔기치기/pa-engichgi-goal is to knock over the other person’s spinning top


Gifts: Some popular gifts given on Seollal are money (of course), ginseng, honey, health products, toiletry, spam, tuna, and hangwa (see below).

Food: There are numerous traditional dishes that can be eaten during Seollal. Some of these are rice, ddeokgook (see above), kimchi, mandu dumplings, Korean pancakes, hangwa, and many other dishes.



만두/Mandu dumplings


한과/Hangwa (confectionaries)


If you ever go to Korea for Seollal, make sure to visit the palaces, parks, and theme parks. Seollal is pretty much a pretty quiet day, besides family visiting relatives..But the palaces, parks, and theme parks are the busiest during Seollal; they offer tourists traditional games to play and events to enjoy.

If you know a Korean/visit a Korean community during the Lunar New Year, make sure to say “새해 복 많이 받으세요! (sae hae bong mah-ni bah-deu se yo)” to them. Or if you know someone who is Chinese/visit a Chinese community, make sure to say “新年快樂! (gong shee fa cai)” to them.

korean new year

chinese new year

Life’s Aspirations

For the longest time, I had no idea what I wanted to be.  I’m good at giving advice, maybe I should be a psychologist? I once thought. Maybe a teacher? A veterinarian? How about an anthropologist? But the more I thought about it, the more I knew I couldn’t see myself doing any of these careers for the rest of my life.

Junior year came and I was still undecided. One fateful day came and I had my annual meeting with my guidance counselor. She asked me once again if I had any idea what I wanted to do and of course, I still didn’t know. So then, she plainly asked me, “What’s your favorite class?” I automatically thought, “German, of course.” Then, it hit me. Foreign languages.I always had a love for foreign languages and cultures. Why couldn’t I think of this before?

Foreign languages and cultures have always surrounded my life. I would have to say the biggest influences on my passion for foreign languages are my parents. I was fortunate enough to have a Korean mother who teaches me Korean and gives me a glimpse of the Korean culture throughout my life. Not only has my mom influenced my passion for foreign languages, but also my American father. The main reason why I wanted to study German out of the 4 languages offered at my school was because of him. I still remember the times he would use his limited German (which he remembered from his days in school) and would randomly ask me questions or just say simple phrases like Sitzen Sie in dem Stuhl! Ja! I wanted to learn and understand these random sentences/questions and to one day speak better German than him (which I do now :P). Es tut mir Leid, Vater! 

So what’s my aspiration? I am an aspiring linguist. I am currently studying German, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, and Latin. The feeling of conversing in a foreign language, assimilating foreign cultures, and experiencing different customs ignites a desire within me. My goal is to one day work for the military or the government and use my linguistic skills for the good of my country. Why? Nothing would bring me greater joy than serving my country while pursuing my passion and exploring what the world has to offer. No matter what path life leads me, there are 3 things I’m sure of..First, I wish to always continue studying and one day be fluent in German, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Latin (and perhaps others like Japanese and Russian?) Second, I want to fully assimilate the different cultures of the world and truly view life in a foreign country as if I was truly a native. Lastly, I wish to one day help teach why knowing foreign languages and cultures are important (especially in today’s society).

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it may be difficult to figure out your aspiration in life. However, it could be as simple as searching deep within. Deciding what you want to do with your life shouldn’t be just simply finding a career that pays the most money. Instead, it should be something that you love and can be truly happy doing for the rest of your life.