Citizen Scholars Program Funds Study Abroad and New Research

With help from the Citizen Scholars program, sophomore Claire Gault spent this past summer traveling throughout China and studying at Harbin Institute of Technology, located in Northeastern China. She also received funding from Citizen Scholars to establish a composting program in her residence hall.

A double major in Professional Writing and Chinese, Gault is a member of the Citizen Scholars inaugural class. The Citizen Scholars program, launched by the College of Arts & Letters in fall 2016, encourages students to succeed academically while taking advantage of experiential learning opportunities, such as study abroad, study away, internships, and service learning.

Gault described her summer study abroad, which was funded by the Citizens Scholar program, as “life-changing.”

“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,” she said. “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 posing for picture on study abroad trip
Gault (far right) and other students on the study abroad in China.

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

Not only did she learn about Chinese culture, Gault also helped teach about American culture by participating in an international festival along with the rest of her study abroad group.

“Our booth was one of the two American schools among a hundred or so,” Gault said.

Back at MSU, Gault received $2,260 from the Citizen Scholars program for her project, the Citizen Scholars Residence Hall Compost Initiative, to create a composting program in Bailey Hall. The project is slated to be completed by June 1, 2018. 

Last year, Gault was on the Citizen Scholars advisory board as their Social Media Manager and scouted for events to create weekly email newsletters. She also coordinated the renting of Munn Ice Arena for a Citizen Scholars bonding night.

I am loving my experience here and the Citizen Scholars program.

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

Gault, who is originally from Redlands, California, joined the Citizen Scholars program last year as a freshman.

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

man and woman sitting in cart
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, carried my strengths with me both at home and across the Pacific. I am loving my experience here and the Citizen Scholars program.”