Redlands East Valley student studies Mandarin in China


​Over the summer, high school kids do a lot of different things to keep themselves busy. Free from the grating school load, summer is freedom. While some kids attend summer school to knock out a fee credits, some take on summer jobs or travel around the world.

Others go to China.

Traveling abroad is usually associated with universities, but there are plenty of programs that cater directly towards high schoolers. NSLI-Y, also known as The National Security Language Initiative for the Youth, is a highly selective program that provides scholarships to high school students to study lesser taught languages.

Saumya Goyal, a REV Senior, traveled across the world to spend her summer in Xi’an, China in order to learn Mandarin Chinese. For six weeks, she lived with a host family and attended Mandarin class daily in the International Department of Northwest University.

She stated that the trip was “amazing experience because it allowed [her] to learn about China as well as make international friends!” 

The NSLI-Y programs are also in Estonia, India, Jordan, Korea, Latvia just to name a few. Why China? Saumya Goyal explained that she was always interested in learning Chinese, and because Mandarin is spoken by more than 1.4 billion people in the world. By learning Mandarin, she can now speak the four most spoken languages in the world: English, Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish. 

For a person that aspires to be an ambassador, knowing these languages is more than important. And while she was in Xi’an to learn the language, she also was fully emerged in the culture. By living with a host family, she was able to visit famous Xi’an attractions such as temples, pagodas and go hiking in the Qinling Mountains. 

Goyal says that she grew incredibly close to her host family, close enough that they would even introduce her as their American daughter. For her, it was truly a home away from home and she even continues to talk to her host mom every night. Even though she only stayed for six weeks, she knows that the relationships she made are going to be lifelong. 

And that’s the brilliant thing of international programs: the people you meet, experiences that you go through, the friendships that will last much, much longer than the trip. That’s the beauty of summer, of the chance of making memories. 

If there was one thing she could change, Saumya Goyal says that she would change the duration. “Six weeks was a really short time and just as I got comfortable and settled into China, it was time to leave.” 

Summer always seems too short, doesn’t it? ​​

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