We sat down with Jessica Beinecke, creator and host of the Crazy Fresh Chinese and OMG!美语 series, to ask her about the recent US-China visa agreement, cross-cultural viewpoints, and her new teaching platform.
China and the United States recently agreed to extend the length of visas for business travelers, tourists, and students. Why is this important?
When I heard the news, I jumped for joy, because I want to go to China as much as possible and I know a lot of students in China feel the same way. The students I interact with on Chinese social media always talk about their dream of studying in America and I’m speaking with more and more American students who want to go there for a year abroad. Both sets of students are just so excited about this news, and I think it is great. The longer the duration, especially for students, the better it is going to be for that mutual contact and progress between our nations and cultures.
Your work focuses on the younger generation in China and the US. What strikes you about how students from each country view the opposite country?
What has stuck out the most to me is their enthusiasm for each other’s country. What I’ve come to realize there is that there is no “opposite view” between our countries, just unique points of reference. We all have access to these emerging technologies that eliminate the separation that had us on opposite sides of the ocean, and I think my audiences are now simply on the same side of growing up and finding who they are.
You recently launched your new platform, Crazy Fresh Chinese. What is the big idea behind it?
If I had a program when I was first studying Chinese that was fun and helped me learn slang and engage with what young people are saying in China, I would’ve watched it over and over and over. That is what I hope to provide. Chinese and English represent the majority of language spoken on the planet. Presenting Chinese in a format that connects with young people, reflects their shared interests, and gives them something to instantly use in their daily lives, is the basis for forming friendships. You are finding common interests and you are learning the “说法”—the sayings that would help you make a friend or start a conversation with someone. I am honored that the 100,000 Strong Foundation has chosen “Crazy Fresh Chinese” as one of its top grassroots efforts in inspiring even more American students to study Chinese and to connect with China.