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Student Profile: Charlie Patterson ’14

May 01, 2014

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Charlie Patterson ’14

Major: Political Science
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Can you describe your Fulbright award, where you will be traveling, and what you’ll be doing while you’re there?

I’ll fly to Beijing in August to attend an intensive language program at Tsinghua University for five months, and then I’ll move to Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, to conduct research with a professor in the population studies department. I’ll be in Xi’an for 10 months studying government-led urbanization and its effects on elder care. My general research question is whether government-led urbanization will increase the living standards of the rural elderly.  

What drew you to this research topic? What excites you about the idea of doing research in the country you have been placed?

In the past two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to study Chinese continuously–from my first year at Lewis & Clark, to an intensive summer program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2012, all the way to Beijing and Shanghai in 2013. The experience has transformed my character and influenced my thinking. Through countless hours of writing characters, I have learned to be patient and figured out how to efficiently schedule my time. Patience has increased my capacity to consume information and allowed me to be a more astute analyst, withholding judgment until engaging numerous perspectives. Many botched attempts at reproducing the proper tones of Chinese words have made me more humble and empathetic towards others. 

This Fulbright fellowship will not only allow me to learn from distinguished Chinese experts and continue to study Chinese; it will also give me the chance to cultivate many more cross-cultural relationships. The building of relationships one at a time—hopefully many over the course of a year—is how we will build lasting understanding between our two nations. 

Have you participated in any study abroad trips during your time at Lewis & Clark? If so, what was that experience like?

I attended a language intensive program in Beijing and had a fantastic time. The program really helps students significantly boost their language abilities in a short amount of time. I had a great roommate and met incredible people while I was there, so I was eager to get back and continue learning. I can’t wait to continue old friendships and begin new ones as I learn more about Chinese culture and Mandarin.

How do you think your Lewis & Clark education has contributed to you seeing yourself as a citizen in a global community?

I have been fortunate to take some great classes with inspiring professors at Lewis & Clark. They taught me how to write and broadened my horizons in ways for which I will always be grateful. Also, I’ve made lifelong friends here. Friends who are bright, motivated, and engaged…all around inspiring individuals. They are the kind of people eager to discuss the world and share their insights. The kind of people who keep me honest and tell me when I make mistakes. It’s the friends and professors that I’ve met here that will help me become a citizen in a global community.

Any advice to share with other Lewis & Clark students applying for similar awards in the future?

Try to start the process at the beginning of the summer before you intend to apply. Research, network, and secure your letters of affiliation before you return to campus in the fall. Don’t be afraid to email people you don’t know to ask for help! For the most part, people will be thrilled you reached out to them and will be eager to help. Email past Fulbrighters who completed a project similar to the one you have in mind and politely ask for their essays as reference. Good luck! 

Is there anything else you’d like to say to future Lewis & Clark students?

Keep fighting the good fight! 

Political Science