Ron Jarus '97

 I entered Swarthmore as a transfer student in the Spring of 1995. I designated myself as a Philosophy student, and graduated after two and a half years with the same said major. However, it was evident to my friends, teachers and myself that the core around which my academic (and often social) life revolved at school was studying Chinese and the department which taught it.

I began my studies with a strong interest in Daoist philosophy and a determination to travel to China and learn the martial art Taijiquan. After taking a course on Daoist literature, I began language studies with a full awareness of the practical goal behind this endeavor; as well as with innocent ignorance of where the guidance and education I would receive from the Chinese faculty would lead me in turns.

After one year of language I felt ready to travel to China, and did so, finding that just one year of a quite intensive language course at Swarthmore endowed me with considerable tools for communicating with native speakers. I returned to Swarthmore and continued another semester of language studies, in addition to taking a class in a newfound treasure - classical Chinese.

That being my final semester, my Chinese instructors took it upon themselves to assist me with my direction after graduating. Through their relations with various institutions, I managed to apply and attain both a scholarship for an intensive summer session in CA, as well as a government-funded scholarship to travel and teach English in China for the following year.

At this moment, after traveling and realizing my original intent of learning Taijiquan, I am a graduate student in Chinese at the University of Colorado at Boulder, known for its expertise in Classical Chinese and Sinology. Again, I am here not without help from my teachers-now-friends, whom I first met a while ago at Swarthmore.

Having studied Chinese in a few various institutions, and teaching undergraduates myself at the moment, I still look at the Chinese education methods and resources at Swarthmore as the most complete and effective. At the same time, the atmosphere in the department is relaxed and nurturing. Looking back, I am amazed at the doors that have opened through learning Chinese at Swarthmore. I am still surprised on a regular basis by the various fruits that are to reap from my past ignorant effort.