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Give them a T!, say Americans at Tsinghua U.

By Dong Leshuo in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-07-14 12:50

Ada Chen, an 18-year-old Chinese-American woman from McLean, Virginia, is thrilled as she is going to start her university life at Tsinghua University, China's top school, this fall.

"To me and my ABCs (American-born-Chinese) friends, Tsinghua equals Harvard," Chen said.

Mona, another Chinese-American young woman who lives in Sacramento, California, will also be a freshman at Tsinghua next month.

"In my perspective, Tsinghua is equivalent to MIT. I thought I had no chance of being accepted. Because in my eyes it's a huge honor and it's really hard to get in," said Mona, who asked that only her first name be used.

Tsinghua University, established in 1911 in Beijing, was rated No 25 in the 2018 QS World University Rankings. It ranks even higher in the fields of study that Chen and Mona will pursue.

Give them a T!, say Americans at Tsinghua U.

Tsinghua ranks 10th in engineering and technology, Mona's planned major, and 15th in computer science, which Chen will study.

"A lot of Americans still haven't heard of Tsinghua, and some don't understand our decisions," said Mona's mother.

Tan Ying, Chen's mother, said she wants people to know that "good universities do not just exist in North America. Some of the Chinese universities are leading in the world".

An American colleague of Tan's became very interested in Tsinghua after Chen decided to attend.

"My colleague asked me how to spell Tsinghua and asked more information about the university," Tan said.

One of Chen's friends had never heard of Tsinghua. But after she went back and did some research, she came to Chen and sincerely said "Congratulations! That's a wonderful university!"

"I would like to see our choice opening up more possibilities for other young people here in the US," Tan said.

Mona's mother said her family wants her to "have her eyes on the whole world, not only the US".

Both Chen and Mona have received admissions from a couple of universities in North America.

Mona decided to go back to China because "China has been developing drastically in the recent years and is playing an increasingly important role on the world stage. In the future, more opportunities will open up for those who know both China and the US."

To Tan, it's natural that Chen decided to go back to China.

"I have been telling my children that no matter where were you born, you are Chinese. You cannot forget your origin. In that, language is the basic element that you should not give up. Chinese is our root," Tan said.

Tan and her husband require their son and daughter to speak and read Chinese. A tradition of reading Chinese books after dinner has been upheld for eight years in the family.

Born and raised in the US, both Chen and Mona can speak fluent Chinese and use Chinese characters.

"The US people are always very proud of their country, unconditionally. I think the Chinese people should also take pride of their country, history and culture, and be more confident," Chen said.

For Mona, she wanted to experience China in person.

"Growing up in the US, I want to know what it means to be Chinese. I want to experience Chinese culture by myself," she said. "Knowledge can be learnt anywhere. But the experience at Tsinghua will be unique."

Roughly 3,500 international students from more than 110 countries are on campus.

International students account for about 6 percent of all Tsinghua students, which is lower than the 20 to 30 percent at most globally renowned universities.

Previously, Tsinghua required an entrance examination for all foreign applicants. The exam was canceled earlier this year.

The current admission requires the applicants to have a high-school diploma, passed Level 5 of the HSK Chinese Language Test, a transcript, national standardized test scores, AP courses and scores, a resume, letters of recommendation from two teachers, and an essay.

Mona visited Tsinghua when she was 5 and again at age 10.

"My impression was that the campus is gorgeous," Mona said.

Ada first visited Tsinghua in March, when she went for the interview. A modern building equipped with solar energy left a deep impression on her.

"It's so cool," Chen said.


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