Testimonial: Frédérick McDuff-Rousseau

Canada-China Scholars' Exchange Program Awardee (2014)

Tianjin University (History, Master's Degree)

Being a recipient of the Canada-China Scholar’s Exchange Program (CCSEP) scholarship was an extraordinary opportunity for me. Not only was I able to go live and study Chinese in Tianjin for a year, but I was also able to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture.

Before coming to China, I never imagined my level of Chinese could improve as quickly as it did in the past year. While I was originally only able to give the name of a specific intersection to taxi drivers or ask retail clerks the price of different items, I was soon able to have real discussions with people around me. The teaching style at Tianjin University was extremely efficient and, with the help of my teachers, I rapidly grew from a stammering beginner to a level where I could travel around the country and interact comfortably with the locals. This was the most rewarding part of my experience.

Due to my increasing mastery of the Chinese language, it quickly became possible to take advantage of long weekends to explore the country and meet its people. Among the few areas I visited, I had the opportunity to go and climb the five great sacred mountains or wuyue (五岳). The climb was a cultural and spiritual experience in itself, but it was the fortuitous encounters with members of communities from all over the country that made this trip unforgettable. By meeting and discussing with people, I came to a better understanding of Chinese culture and Chinese thought.

Furthermore, I gained a new perspective on the historical material I was studying at home for my master’s degree. It is by interacting and living with people that we can come to understand them and that is what this scholarship offered me.

Studying and living in China for a year has given me insight in the intrinsic motivations of the Chinese population and a deeper understanding of Chinese culture. Therefore, the CCSEP not only gave me the tools to develop my mastery of the Chinese language, but also helped me become a better historian.