A PASSION FOR
CASE's Professors of the
Year love what they do
And it shows
By Margaret Juliano
Hong Gang Jin knows that learning a second language and
culture can be intimidating. But she loves to watch the process
"When students start Chinese," she says, "their eyes show so
much intimidation, as if they're thinking to themselves, 'What am I
getting into?' But two years down the road, they're so confident,
their language is fluent, and they have learned to look at the world
differently. The contrast in their faces makes me feel so wonderful."
Jin grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution. Her
first assignment prepared her well for the rigors of professorship.
At the age of 18, she taught 60 students in one classroom. After
teaching English at a university in the Shanxi Province, Jin
participated in Oberlin College's teaching exchange program, where
professors encouraged her to continue her studies.
She acquired a Master of Arts in English as a second language
and a Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of Illinois.
This ultimately led her to a professorship at Hamilton College, where
she currently teaches Chinese language, literature and culture.
Jin's love of teaching has prompted her to explore language
pedagogy. Her findings&emdash;that students learn language better
from multiple sources, including games, texts, and other eclectic
methods&emdash;have led her to develop her own interactive multimedia
programs that link textbooks, workbooks, videotapes, and audio tapes.
Because Jin believes the best way to learn Chinese is to
immerse oneself in the culture, three years ago she collaborated with
colleagues to create the Associated Colleges in China study abroad
program for students from 20 colleges and universities.
Each year, 35 to 40 students live in Beijing for six months,
taking seven courses (including a special language class) and
participating in culturally enriching activities, such as meeting
host families and travelling workshops for ACC's teacher and
coordinates the theme-related curriculum.
With all of these educational endeavors on her plate, "Some
people tell me, you're not normal, you work too much," Jin says. "But
I don't think of it all as a burden. I don't feel pressure because I
love what I do. I have the best job in the world. You must have
passion and emotion to teach."