During her high-school years in Chengdu, Shumei Chen ’09 was honored each year as an “Excellent Leader.” Besides her classroom achievements, she was number three in her province in swimming, president of her school’s student government, vice president of her school research group, president of the photography club and editor of the school magazine. She’s settling in as an excellent leader at Dickinson as well—is active with the Asian Social Interest Association and Photography Club as well as the Ping Pong Club that meets on Saturdays to lob the ball in the basement of the Goodyear Building. She’s leaning toward a major in math but maintains a strong interest in sports. Shumei answered a few questions for Dickinson Magazine shortly after her arrival this fall in Carlisle.
|This fall Shumei Chen visited the international admissions office to ask how she may help recruit more of her fellow Chinese to Dickinson.
What have you found to be most surprising during your first semester at Dickinson?
Class. I am just back from my math lab. I never thought a math lab could be as interesting as the one I just had. Every student actively participated in this Jeopardy!-type math game.
Since your arrival here what has been your greatest challenge?
English is always the big problem for international students in the beginning months. So is the food. But for me, another big challenge appears in class. My first-year seminar is Images and Tales of Modern War, which covers content I rarely touched before. I e-mailed my father when I got my first paper assignment ever in college, “I feel so strange. I am required to write about another country’s patriotism throughout its history. I never wrote on such a topic about China before.”
Is there a class, person, event or activity that has enhanced your feeling of connectivity to Dickinson?
I am in a learning community, and people on my floor are in the same first-year seminar with me. We know one another really well. Such a nice and comfortable atmosphere greatly influences my study here. If I have a problem with my class, I turn to my neighbors, and we discuss it together. There are always people ready to help.
Is there a favorite new thing—food, fashion—that you have discovered since arriving in Carlisle?
The study room in the library is my favorite place. I can do whatever I want inside—concentrating on studying, discussing with my friends, etc.
What do you miss most about your home country?
Definitely the delicious Chinese food, especially the spicy [Sichuan style] Chuan Cai, which I like most! Even though Dickinson College is renowned for its dining service, and there are all kinds of food and special dishes provided every week, I still miss my favorite Chinese food. Fortunately, there are three Chinese restaurants in Carlisle, and I can go there whenever I want.
After graduation do you plan to make your life in the United States or return to your home country?
After Dickinson College I would like to stay in the United States for a couple more years, gaining some work experience and going to graduate school. I would like to return to China when my career is settled. I am sure the experiences in both America and Europe, where I would like to go in my junior year, will greatly enrich my life, not only by broadening my horizons but also by establishing lifelong friendships. •