CHILDERSBURG -- Jake Mauldin said he believes no matter what size community you are from, you don’t have to limit yourself.
And Mauldin is putting that belief into action.
Having graduated from Fayetteville High School in 2013, Mauldin is fulfilling his wish to learn more about the Chinese language.
He has always been interested in learning Chinese even though he is from a small Alabama community.
“I studied Chinese language by myself and also took some courses in Chinese” he said
Mauldin has attended Central Alabama Community College and Troy University.
At Troy, he got involved in the Confucius Institute. The institute enables students to become familiar with the Chinese language, history and culture. Troy’s Confucius Institute also plays a role in economic development and has organized more than 17 trips to China for Alabamians, including government and business leaders, educators, performance groups, and university and high school students.
The institute is a public institution that is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.
“Basically, the institute’s goal is to promote Chinese language and culture. Through the institute, I took some reading and writing in Chinese proficiency. I passed the levels necessary and received a scholarship to go to China for one year to study,” Mauldin said.
He will leave Sept. 8 for the city of Qinhuangdao, about two or three hours from Beijing. The town has a population of more than 800,000.
“This is going to be so different from Fayetteville and Childersburg,” he said. “That will be hard to get use to.”
The closer it gets to his time to leave, Mauldin said, the more excited he gets.
“I’ve been counting down the days,” he said. “I’m not too fond of flying, and this is going to be a 13-hour flight to China from Toronto. I go from Atlanta to Toronto then to Beijing.”
His mom, he said, isn’t as excited.
“I’m going to be over there an entire year and I won’t get to see my family during that time,” Mauldin said.
While in China, he will be staying at Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology.
Mauldin said he thinks more students should learn a foreign language, whether it’s Chinese or Spanish.
A chemistry major, Mauldin said he believes learning Chinese is going to help him in the future. He said there is a need for interpreters in language across the country. He said he could also use his degree to get a job with the Environmental Protection Agency or start his own company some day.
“The Bureau of Labor said the need is great for interpreters, and the jobs are there. I still hope to use my chemistry background with my Chinese knowledge,” he said.
In China, Mauldin plans on getting a job as an English tutor to help pay for his stay there. The scholarship, he said, paid for everything but a plane ticket.
The student said he doesn’t believe Chinese is difficult to learn and wishes more students would study it.
“It is not as different as most languages. To me, it is easier than Spanish as far as grammar is concerned,” he said.
Mauldin also knows Vietnamese and Spanish.
In talking about his China studies, Mauldin said he believes just because you’re from a small town, “you should still be able to do things you wanted. Don’t limit yourself.”
Mauldin thanked Dr. Iris Xu, director of the Confucius Institute at Troy, and Troy University for this opportunity.
Mauldin is the son of Ronald and Jamie Mauldin. He has a younger sister, Julie.