About the Author
Shuang Liu Sundquist
Shuang is the author of Self-study Chinese and founder of Beihu Chinese Institute LLC. She has nearly 10 years of bi-lingual language teaching experience and is an adjunct professor for Chinese at the University of Northwestern St. Paul.
Shuang received her Master of Business Administration from Bethel University in December 2016. Prior to coming to the United States for her M.B.A. degree, she received her undergraduate degree from Huaihua University in Hunan, China in English Linguistics and founded the non-profit organization Zhenyen to help bring education opportunities to rural areas in Hunan province.
BEIHU, WHERE EVERYTHING STARTED...
I was born and grew up in a small village in China, and Beihu was where I would play with the butterflies during the day and search for the fireflies at night. My parents are simple and good-natured rice farmers. I was privileged to have spent a lot of precious "family time" working hard and sweating in the rice field together with mom, dad, sister, relatives and our neighbors. They have taught me the joy of harvest in the muddy rice field and the secret of contentment when we could just have nice weather to dry the grain of our rice to sell for a decent price.
What made me struggle as a young girl, though, was seeing the hardships and despairs in the countryside families when old people just had to wait for death once they are sick, and young people just had to wait to be arranged with their marriage without even knowing a lot about their future spouses once they graduate from middle school. There seemed to be impossible to break this cycle of lifestyle.
So I often went to Beihu where I could just be with the wind blowing over the lake, overflowing with the smell of freedom and beauty and where has always become an inspirational place for my poems and my imagination about future and hope. I started asking myself, "what shall I do to change the face of my countryside?" And I realized that my only option was going to a good college and start a Non-profit organization to teach free of charge the kids who have the same background as me.
MY EARLY TEACHINGS...
I started a Non-profit organization at the end of my freshmen year in college and I named it Zhenyan Class, the same name after my high school to honor the efforts that my high-school teachers dedicate their whole lives on us, hoping to prepare groups of intelligent young people to serve the society one day. Our mission was to deliver quality English teachings for free to kids who are from the countryside or from what we call the "urban-edged" citizens who are originally from the countryside but end up barely surviving in the cities. These groups of students are usually forgotten by the normal educational system and those educational marketers, and most of them usually end up having no hope to enter colleges.
So Zhenyan Class would be responsible to teach them until they pass the college-entrance examination. What satisfied me from a personal level, in addition to benefiting the kids from my background, was that Zhenyan Class attracted a group of linguistic enthusiasts and we often had great conversations and vivid argumentation on how some special linguistic phenomena should be explained and taught in a classroom setting. We enjoyed our argumentation so much that we often forgot about time, from day to night and until we had to be kicked out by the staff from the dining hall or some restaurants.
With as much help as we could gain from the school and community, we were flooded with receiving more than 1,000 applications from the local middle schools and high schools after a year of establishment. At that time, I believed that I should focus on writing a book on all those theorems we've talked formally and informally and then teach our people how to apply them in teaching English as a second language learning. However, I was too distracted by the bi-lingual talk shows that we used to advertise for our teachings, the weekly teachings and training our volunteers, fund raising and other management responsibilities.
The high demands from those students and the commitment to my various responsibilities made me realize that "I actually don't know how to lead! I am more of a linguistic nerd than an envisioned leader." With the need of leadership training and business mind to visualize my passion for my bi-linguistic theories, I decided to give up everything I had in China and pursue my MBA degree at Bethel University, St. Paul, MN in the United States of America.
MBA, MY LIFE IN AMERICA
I remembered myself buying a plane ticket to Shanghai before my overseas trip because I had never flown and I was afraid to be too overwhelmed by all those unknowns and get lost in the airport. That year, I was 21. I also remembered my excitement when passing the student visa when I barely knew anything about on-line application because using computer was just scaring to me. The smile and humor of that visa officer has definitely made me feel more excited and hopeful about my new journey in another country!
I worked almost 10 hours every day to catch up with my MBA courses and found myself struggling to understand anything talked about in class. Overcoming English was not that hard, but getting myself comfortable with business language was another thing. Fortunately, I received whatever help I needed academically and emotionally at Bethel University. On the graduation day, when I saw our professors standing in two lines upstairs, applauding passionately and warmly, as we were entering the graduation ceremony, I couldn't stop my tears rolling down my face.
What made me most grateful was that the Truth about Life gained by Jesus dying on the Cross was revealed to me on the 50th day coming to the United States. I was then discipled and grew my faith at a local Chinese church called Twin Cities Chinese Christian Church. On the 120th day, I met my future husband on a swing dance activity at Bethel University, and he helped me to practice my faith in real life. "For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8, ESV).