Jenkins took part in this rural community event helping to ring in the new year.

For most of us, living in a foreign country whose language you are studying in college would be a daunting, if not inconceivable, proposition. Anthony (Tony) Jenkins, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Chinese Language Flagship major in the College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature, is not “most of us.”

A natural linguist, Jenkins, who came to Hawaiʻi from Jackson, Mississippi, chose to study Chinese in order to challenge himself. He has levels of high levels of fluency in Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish and is comfortable speaking other languages. The flagship programs of UH Mānoa attracted Jenkins to campus. UH Mānoa Chinese Language Flagship Center Director Madeline Spring describes him as an “unusually talented individual.”

Anthony Jenkins
Anthony Jenkins

Jenkins received a coveted Chinese Flagship Boren scholarship, which is funding his study at Nanjing University for an academic semester in fall 2019, as well as the upcoming internship semester. By doing so, he not only fulfills the capstone requirement of the Flagship Center, but also one of his dreams.

Courses such as the history of Taiwan and Inner Mongolia, composition and media studies expanded his knowledge. But it is the relationships that he has forged that expand his love for the Chinese language, culture and people. Jenkins participated in a community service event recently to help ring in the New Year. Because the event took place in a rural area, having a foreigner involved, especially an American, resulted in Jenkins being in both print and television news.

Jenkins said, “There are other English speakers in my cohort who at times converse in English outside of class, but I have made it my personal rule that I will not speak in English for the duration of my time here in China. And with the exception of speaking with the director of our program once, I’m pleased to say that I have successfully maintained this rule.”

This spring semester, Jenkins will intern at Yunnan Provincial Museum in Kunming as an interpretive guide.