Student view:

Claire Gault: Citizen scholar

Sept. 13, 2017

Claire Gault is a sophomore from Redlands, California double majoring in professional writing and Chinese in the College of Arts and Letters. She is also a member of the Citizen Scholar Program’s inaugural class, which is designed to prepare the next generation of diverse, high achieving and engaged citizen leaders. The program encourages students to succeed academically while taking advantage of experiential learning opportunities, such as study abroad, study away, internships and service learning. She spent this past summer traveling throughout China and studying at Harbin Institute of Technology, located in Northeastern China as part of a summer study abroad, funded by the program. She also received funding from Citizen Scholars to establish a composting program in her residence hall.

My summer study abroad was a life-changing experience. Citizen Scholars has allowed me to go to Harbin, China, to operate as a bilingual woman in our modern world. I can now speak, read, and write in Mandarin Chinese. I quickly met some of the most brilliant and creative minds in Northeastern Chinese academia and was able to foster close relationships with my MSU abroad group.

Group of students in China

Gault (far right) and other students on the study abroad in China.

A portion of my classes abroad were conducted entirely in Mandarin Chinese and included intensive tone instruction and dictations. I studied Chinese culture with topics including politics, feminism/gender roles, diet, education, cultural barriers and debates on Japanese/Chinese relations.

Not only did I learn about Chinese culture, I also helped teach about American culture by participating in an international festival along with the rest of my study abroad group. Our booth was one of the two American schools among a hundred or so.

Back at MSU, I received $2,260 from the Citizen Scholars program for my project, the Citizen Scholars Residence Hall Compost Initiative, to create a composting program in Bailey Hall.

Last year, I was on the Citizen Scholars advisory board as their social media manager and scouted for events to create weekly email newsletters and coordinated the renting of Munn Ice Arena for a Citizen Scholars bonding night.

This past spring, I participated in the Citizen Scholar showcase where I presented a poster on Ai Weiwei, a progressive Chinese artist famous for turning his back on the government.

I was born in the desert of California and now have ended up among the great Citizen Scholars at MSU. My utmost love for Citizen Scholars has carried me through California, China, Michigan and beyond artificial borders.

Claire Gualt and friend in rickshaw

Gault (right) with another student on study abroad in China.

I don't consider this to be an ordinary college experience, and most would say likewise. I have been to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, cried near the Sparty statue, felt the streets of Hollywood, figure skated in Munn Ice Arena and carried my strengths with me both at home and across the Pacific. I am loving my experience here and the Citizen Scholars program.