From Akron to Beijing: One Student's Journey

Kristin Snyder was in second grade she became fascinated with Asian culture after a man from Japan visited her class. She began investigating the exotic cultures of Asian countries early but found her real love when she began learning about Chinese language and culture.


Kristin Snyder was in second grade she became fascinated with Asian culture after a man from Japan visited her class. She began investigating the exotic cultures of Asian countries early but found her real love when she began learning about Chinese language and culture.

Now a senior Archeology student at The University of Akron, Kristin continues her passion by taking Chinese classes and acting as president of the Chinese Cultural Society, both at The University of Akron.

The culture is so rich and vibrant, said Kristin as she replied to an instant message she received on QQ, a Chinese website similar to MSN, my hope is that more people can discover the beauty of the language and culture.

Greatly influenced by Chinese pop stars or C-pop as it is referred to in the Asian music scene, Kristin began teaching herself Chinese by watching the music videos.

Jay Chou, Wang Leeholm and Lin Junjie were my first exposure to Chinese pop. Through their music I discovered many other artists. Scrolling through the playlist on her iPod it is obvious that her musical influences are diverse.

Kristin’s other influences include a guest speaker at the 2009 and 2010 China Week lectures. Kim Kirkendall, owner and CEO of China Resource Network, spoke on her experience with learning Chinese as a second language and how it led her into her career.

Working harder toward her goal, Krisitn increased her knowledge and vocabulary every opportunity she had and when a chance to participate in an archeology dig in a remote village outside of Xi’an, China she immediately signed up.

While in the remote village outside of Xi’an where the dig was located, Yangguanzhai, she was forced to speak only in Chinese because almost no one spoke English.

It forced me to build a deeper vocabulary and better grasp of how the Chinese language was used within the culture.

From there her opportunities began to open up, from President of the Chinese Cultural Society to singing in Chinese at several local Chinese community events, Kristin polished her Chinese and singing.

Shortly after her performance at the closing event for China Week, Kristin was invited to participate in a competition to represent regional Confucius Institutes by Dr. Chengxin Zhao, Chinese Director of UA’s Confucius Institute.

Dr. Zhao asked how many songs I could sing and to apply for it as quickly as possible.

Making a demo video of several songs in Chinese, Kristin submitted her clips to be reviewed by the nominating committee. She was selected shortly after to represent the Confucius Institute from The University of Akron.

In December 2010, Kristin traveled to Beijing for the 5th annual Confucius Institute Conference to perform at the opening ceremony.

It wasn’t until she boarded the plane two weeks later that she realized that she was really going. She even celebrated her birthday in mid air.

But I’d do it again if I had the time. The Confucius Institute was very gracious to give me this amazing opportunity. I love China and going back made me love it even more.

So how did it feel performing in front of thousands in attendance and millions on Chinese national TV and around the world?