Mengting You ’18 hadn’t planned on getting a bachelor’s degree in the United States. Originally from Liyang City, China, a place she refers to as a “beautiful, tiny city,” You came to the College of Charleston to follow her music mentor – professor Lee-Chin Siow – after studying violin under her at Soochow University in China.
Like many international students who come to the College, You had some familiarity with the English language, but she wasn’t as proficient as she wanted to be. So, her first stop in Charleston was the College’s English Language Institute (ELI).
The ELI offers a variety of programs for non-native English speakers intent on mastering English so that they can pursue academic, professional or personal development opportunities. For You, it was the perfect program for accelerating her English language proficiency.
“This program worked well for me,” she recalls. “With ELI, students not only improve their English, but can also learn more about American cultures. The professors at the ELI encouraged me to participate in class activities. I gradually overcame my timidity and became more proactive through group activities, free discussion and presentations.”
For two full semesters, You took classes at the ELI. She credits that time with helping her adapt to life in the U.S. and preparing her to succeed as a full-time student at the College.
“All of the work I did with the ELI was practical,” she says. “Through the training I did there, my listening, speaking, reading and writing improved tremendously.”
As an undergraduate majoring in music at the College, Mengting was fortunate to have a number of opportunities to perform at some impressive venues, including at the University of North Florida. She considers the highlight of her burgeoning musical career an occasion when she performed at the U.S. Embassy in Wuhan, China.
“Professor Siow arranged an invitation for my classmates and me to play [at the embassy] for the 241st U.S. Independence Day Celebration,” she says. “It was a very special occasion, and in my opinion, this event was an important way to promote friendship between China and the U.S.”
Since graduating in May 2018, You has moved on and is pursuing a master’s degree in music business at the University of Miami. After she finishes her graduate degree in Florida, You hopes to move to Europe and continue studying and performing. The background she’s gotten as an undergraduate at the College – and the preparation she experienced from the ELI – should stand her in good stead.
“Studying at a liberal arts institution was important for me because that really means you get a classic education with small classes and top-quality professors,” You offers. “It is totally different from the college education you find in most places in China.”
For more information about the English Language Institute, visit the website.