November 2011, Volume 15, Number 5

Cultural Spotlight

Love of Learning Takes MDC Student to China

All his life, Khaliq Muhammad has been interested in Chinese culture, so enrolling in a Chinese language class at Miami Dade College was a natural step in the academic trajectory of this articulate aerospace engineering student. What he didn’t expect was how soon he would be testing out his newly acquired linguistic skills on the other side of the globe.   

This past summer, Muhammad spent nearly two months traveling and studying in China after receiving the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He learned of the opportunity while walking through Wolfson Campus between classes.

Perfect Opportunity

“I saw an ad for the scholarship on one of the plasma screens,” Muhammad said. “I’ve always been a big fan of Chinese films, architecture and ways of thought, but I was mainly inspired to apply since I was taking Mandarin Chinese at the time.”

After being awarded the Gilman scholarship, Muhammad spent one month studying at Shanghai University and three weeks traveling – with the support of other scholarships he earned – to various cities and historical sites. Among his favorites: Guilin, Beijing, Hong Kong and the Shaolin Temple.

A Natural Fit

The cool-headed Muhammad wasn’t jarred by culture shock. “Being a vegetarian made it kind of hard to order food,” he said. “The sun also rose very early there – around 4:30 a.m. – and there were longer spans of daylight than I’m used to.”

“But what really struck me the most about the Chinese is that they are so hardworking – and so fit,” Muhammad noted. “You go to parks at sunrise, and they’re filled with people of all ages doing tai chi.”

During his stay, Muhammad made a number of friends that he keeps in touch with regularly via Skype. He plans to return to China some day and, perhaps, work with the Chinese.

“All the things that I’ve learned thus far have inspired me to want to learn even more in order to know more about the world and myself,” Muhammad said.

— MR

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