UNG students Alexandra Bennett, back row, second from left; Michael Norman, back row, third from left; and Landry Shaffer, standing, far right, took part in their Chinese Language Flagship capstone year in 2016-17. They studied at Beijing Union University. (Photo courtesy of American Councils)

A Mandarin Chinese program underwritten by the U.S. Department of Defense has renewed its commitment to the University of North Georgia with another $1.2 million grant over four years. 

The Georgia military college is one of 13 institutions across the country selected to offer the Chinese Language Flagship, a five-year program intended to develop professional-level proficiency through four years of intensive study followed by a “capstone” year at partner institutions in Taiwan or mainland China.  

In 2011, its first year with the flagship program, UNG began offering $20,000 scholarships to ROTC cadets for extended study domestically or abroad. Last year, the scholarship was opened to civilian students as well. 

Civilians had already overtaken cadets as Chinese flagship participants by 26 to 18 margin in the spring of 2019. So far, 14 students overall have completed their capstone year. (Scholarships are disbursed separately from the $1.2 million in operational funding.)

When the National Security Education Program announced it would reauthorize the program for the 2020-24 period, it opened the application to existing and new institutions. UNG won the renewal in part by showcasing how the program has benefited a range of students from around the state. 

“Our efforts and what we do are validated. Our program is solid,” said Chi-Hsuan Catterson, senior lecturer of Chinese and academic director of UNG’s Chinese Language Flagship, said in a news release. “We always want more students who are willing to take this challenge.”

Columbus, Ga., native Dillon Evans completed a summer program at Indiana University, another flagship institution, in 2018, followed by a semester in Taiwan and summer stint at National Taiwan University in 2019. 

The junior modern languages major with a concentration in Chinese for global professionals at UNG said his Chinese education has been sharply deepened by the fact that instructors have challenged him to adapt his thinking, not the other way around. 

“Chinese Flagship professors and tutors take on a perspective of my specific major when teaching Chinese, but they do not shift their cultural background to fit an American’s way of thinking,” he said in the release. 

No other Georgia institutions offer the Chinese Language Flagship program, though the University of Georgia’s grants in Russian and Portuguese were both renewed for the upcoming four-year period. See the full list of Chinese flagship institutions

The flagship program is funded by the National Security Education Program at the Defense Department, which has deemed languages like Russian, Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Persian, Turkish and Portuguese critical for national defense. 

Learn more and find application details on the UNG Chinese Flagship site here

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...