Scholarship sends Constantine east for trip of a lifetime

You ate what?!

“I tried brain once,” senior Jamie Constantine said. “It didn’t really taste like anything, but the texture was awful. It just kind of melted in your mouth, like cotton candy.”

Constantine tried this cultural dish in Xi’an, China, while partaking in a scholarship program. She earned this scholarship because of her dedicated interest in languages and work ethic. Currently in CAPP Spanish and French II, her interest in languages and her childhood background made her stand out as a candidate.

“When I was younger I had speech problems. I didn’t go to preschool, so I went to speech school and speech therapy until I was about 10,” she said. “I think that, that inability to speak has made me want to help others communicate with each other as much as they can.”

As well as studying Spanish and French, Constantine also chose to study Mandarin Chinese. This will make it even easier to communicate with others around the world, considering that over a billion people speak the language.

Out of the some 5,000 applicants, Constantine was awarded this seven week long scholarship to develop an understanding of the culture and learn the language. Enclosed in an ancient wall built to preserve it from dynasties, Xi’an is one of the oldest and largest cities in the country.  With a population of about 11 million people, Xi’an is home to a large Muslim population as well, even including a “Muslim Quarters.”

“It was just a giant market where people were selling stuff… and you could get your feet cleaned by fish,” she said. “I actually bought 40 pounds worth of stuff to bring back with me- so all of us had to get a second suitcase to bring back.”

In contrast with Wisconsin, China is extremely hot and humid during the summer.

“It was 100 everyday with high humidity, sometimes it got to 109,” she said. “It was so terrible for me. Even wearing a short sleeve shirt I felt like I was dying. Eventually we got used to it, but only the last two weeks.”

Constantine became close with these individuals and made some lasting friendships. She remains in contact with her friends and host family from China thanks to the power of technology.

“We’re actually having a video chat tonight with everyone because it’s almost been a month since we’ve seen each other,” she said.

Constantine appreciated the opportunity to become more aware of the world around her, confessing that her real take away from the trip was learning how to be accepting of other cultures.

“I absolutely loved it for the cultural aspect,” she said. “[I grew] more aware and accepting of other cultures.”

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