Daniel Lindbergh Lang, a journalism major and a Chinese studies minor at the University of Nevada, Reno, leaves Dec. 25, 2018 for Taiwan to spend his winter researching. Lang, a senior at the University, has a full schedule ahead of him, blending both his language and public relations skills while traveling abroad. He was awarded with a Phi Kappa Phi and an Honors Undergraduate Research Award to complete his Honors thesis research while studying abroad. He will then return to the United States in January to finish his thesis, graduate with his bachelor's degree in May and if everything goes according to plan, spend the next year in China using the skills he has accrued in intercultural communication. He has also accepted a Peace Corps volunteer position in Mongolia beginning in 2019.
Lang recently returned from his second trip to China this past summer. He was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to attend a Chinese university during the summer and be completely immersed in the Chinese language and culture. He said the first few days were the most difficult because every region in China has its own dialect.
"People kept complementing me on how "renzhen" I am - basically how conscientious I am - I didn't learn that word until the fourth or fifth day," Lang said.
What he enjoys most about his travels abroad is the rich sense of language learning. He explained that he visited rural villages in China, met with government officials and talked about contemporary issues with everyone he met, including his taxi driver.
"Throughout these experiences, we talked about contemporary Chinese issues - GMOs, population growth, two-child policy, trade wars with the U.S. - these are all ways this program was especially helpful. Learning how to discuss important issues in the local language and learning how to make change," Lang said.
These experiences helped shape Lang's Honors thesis and gave it an interdisciplinary approach. As part of his thesis, Lang is studying how the Chinese view Vatican rulings and how religion is viewed in Asia. He is completing his thesis research while in Taiwan this winter with Fu Jen Catholic University. Lang will be staying with Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, who hosts the Maryknoll China Teachers Program, where he plans to volunteer after his Peace Corps service in 2019. The program specifically recruits Catholic teachers to teach English and U.S. culture to Chinese students in China.
Lang blends his passion for service into his love of learning and education. Throughout his time at the University, he has immersed himself in experiences far beyond that of the typical college student. He has used his education as means to travel widely and understand people better. He said true service work is understanding people really well. Immediately following his Taiwan trip, Lang will head to Panama for World Youth Day - a weeklong international pilgrimage.
"The more opportunities I put myself in and the more I am exposed to, I have learned where I can contribute my voice," Lang said.
Although he's still making plans for the months in between graduation and his Mongolia trip, Lang said eventually he hopes to work for a public relations or advertising firm that partners in China. Wherever he ends up, he has plenty of international business and cultural communication skills to take him to high places.