Alumni Profile: Emily Block BA ’10
November 22, 2013
Emily Block BA ’10
Major: foreign languages
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Current work: Chinese-to-English videogame translator and freelance illustrator
What drew you to attend Lewis & Clark?
I remember my tour guide mentioning that about 60 percent of students spend at least one semester studying abroad. The thought of staying close to home while also having the opportunity to live and study in a different country was really appealing to me.
How did you decide to study foreign languages?
I took French throughout high school, and knew a bit of Chinese thanks to some Saturday classes my parents signed me up for as a child. At Lewis & Clark, I decided to keep going with French and to start getting serious with Chinese—my mom’s family is Chinese and while the majority of my relatives speak enough English to communicate, I thought I’d be able to get to know them better if we could converse in their own language. More importantly, I’d be able to finally understand them when they’d gossip in Mandarin, instead of just hearing “blah blah blah EMILY blah blah blah!”
Language has always been my favorite subject. I love that learning a new language requires everyone to revert back to a basic, baby-speak level: “This is an apple! I have three apples!” I love that spark of euphoria everyone experiences when they finally start to understand what a native speaker is saying and even have the words to respond: “I don’t talk like a baby anymore!” The process of learning a new language is both silly and richly rewarding, and I love the camaraderie that emerges from learning with others.
What do you miss most about Lewis & Clark?
Watching the sky start to lighten over the tree canopies and cobblestone walkways made all those frantic all-nighters in Watzek Library really memorable, almost serene. Living in big grey Beijing now, I really miss sprawling out on the grassy lawn with some books or working on an art assignment while barefoot students play Frisbee and set up acoustic jam sessions nearby.
What would people be surprised to know about you when you were a student at Lewis & Clark?
During one weekend of freshman year, I sat at a table drawing for a full 24 consecutive hours. In that time, I completed a 24-page comic for 24-Hour Comics Day.
How did your time at Lewis & Clark instill you with a global perspective?
If it weren’t for my experiences at Lewis & Clark, I certainly wouldn’t be living and working in China today! I was such a homebody, and no one imagined that I would end up moving to Beijing. Lewis & Clark’s language program forced me out of my comfort zone, where I discovered I could still function reasonably and even thrive eventually.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to current or future students?
In the words of a famous teacher: take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. It’s the only way to learn. In that same vein, try to get as much internship or actual work experience as you can before you graduate. It’s the only way to find out what you really want out of your future career.