The China Program

The China Program is Blue Marble University’s BA/MS online Chinese language degree program.

In more recent times, China has been the only major economy to maintain growth despite global-financial, trade war and COVID turbulence.  In turn the country has maintained its attractiveness on the international stage, while knowing its language and culture remain high on the list of valuable skills and knowledge for young, adult and professional learners alike. One great way to acquire the skill of Chinese language is through Blue Marble University’s The China Program, a 2-4-year, fully-online, Chinese language master’s degree program. 

A degree awarded for proficiency that can be tailored for the proficient.

Refreshingly, proficiency is the degree program’s focus, rather than seat time and class hours.  It is completely suitable for beginners who will be taken through to adequate proficiency for professional use.  Students who are already proficient to some degree can begin customized curriculums tailored by Blue Marble University’s vastly experienced, professional and capable faculty. 

Being in China since 2002, proficiency in Chinese was not the focus of my own degree program.  Being fluent in the language already, the university pivoted quickly and with ease, crafting a student-directed curriculum based on my input.  The result was a personally meaningful, valuable and dynamic foray into China’s language and culture through the study of China’s philosophy, medicine, education and herbal extract industry.

My enjoyment of Blue Marble University’s The China Program was based on a respect for the quality of the university .

Not only does quality take time to create, but it can also take time to realize it.  There are numerous reasons for the quality of Blue Marble University, but the two that stood out specifically for The China Program were that it was realistic and lean.

The program’s goal is proficiency in Chinese, which is what is needed in a professional capacity.  How that is achieved is understood by the school to be a product of hard studious work rather than a product of seat time in a classroom.  Therefore, unrelated and unnecessary course work was eliminated from my curriculum, cutting study time and cost dramatically. 

This is a lean and exceptionally realistic approach to learning a language, and to education in general.  For learners with family and professional lives looking for options in further education where time and money are in short supply, like myself at the time, this is a great choice.  Really, it was a joy for me to serendipitously find a school looking at education in such a fashion, and as I worked my way through the program, my respect for the school’s approach to further education only deepened. 

My enjoyment of the program was also based on the inspiration that continuously arose as I experienced the school’s innovation, care and resourcefulness.

Innovation

Jumping on board and learning with an education institution that was thinking outside of the “higher-education” box was a continuous inspiration for me.  Gradually, I came to learn the school had put natural and necessary education reform and innovation into action by trimming off the excess of bloated and expensive brick and mortar universities focused on seat time and class hours.  This innovation was not only enjoyable for myself but also a continuous inspiration that gave me an extra boost many times throughout the learning process.

Though there were always prompt and helpful replies to all of my emails to instructors and staff, unavoidably it was a lone ride through the virtual learning landscape.  With only virtual presence and support of faculty; with the onus of learning placed solely on myself to plod on amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday family and professional life—it was daunting at times.  I never did feel lost though, and knew clearly my purpose and path for each course, which gave me confidence and urged me forward.  This was due to the promptness, clarity and thoughtfulness of instructor guidance and administrative staff communications.  These expressed the high-degree of professional care infused within the school.  This care was inspiring and it greatly took the edge off of solo virtual self-learning!

Resourcefulness

It seems natural, really a no-brainer, that the internet would become a treasure-trove of resources for the field of education. Blue Marble University dips liberally into that treasure to create its programs, and for The China Program it harnesses a variety of media resources to allow students to learn and practice all that they need to be proficient.  Due to being proficient in Chinese already, the university tapped one more of its resources, their student.  Based on my feedback they created a self-directed degree program that allowed me to develop as a philosopher, an educator, a speaker of Chinese and as a traditional Chinese culture enthusiast.  Being able to meld my Chinese proficiency development with study of other China-centric subjects of interest naturally elevated the meaningfulness and thus my enjoyment of the program. 

I have been able to experience Blue Marble’s innovative resourcefulness in another capacity, as an instructor/mentor of one of their other The China Program students.  Since teaching is a powerful way to learn, being tapped again as a resource for teaching in turn encouraged and deepened my own learning—and for a student, where does joy come from?  Learning—and there was a lot of that happening over the course of the program!

Valuable Take-A-Ways

From the clearly seen to the less tangible, a large number of valuable things were learned and acquired, reaching far beyond expectations.

On the tangible level I have come away with two videos showcasing my high-level of Chinese speaking and reading proficiency, a burgeoning online portfolio containing numerous Chinese language and culture related academic papers, a field study on the domestic Chinese herbal extract industry and two works of translation poised for publishing.  Though not required by the degree program I was greatly encouraged by the university to publish one of my papers, and did so on Amazon.  Finally, I have expanded my network of connections with fantastic professionals from the university.  On the less tangible level, I increased acquisition of Chinese language and culture while the development of my writing, editing and translation skills took huge strides alongside greatly increased skill in the use of WordPress and Microsoft Word.

Screenshot of my online portfolio and WordPress website.

To be used much like a resume for job hunting after graduating, the online portfolio is a showcase of learning done and academic work produced as well as of the academic record and certificate of degree.  Guided by an instructor, students learn to use WordPress, which eventually leads to enough proficiency with the website creation platform that each student can make their own website from scratch.  A huge take-a-way to say the least.

Guided by the university, my self-directed degree program led to the creation of video content showcasing my language skills and an eclectic body of academic writing.  

Two videos in all displaying my Chinese speaking and reading skills were made. To view the other video and read the accompanying papers go here…

Core insights into the vastness of traditional Chinese culture were made in my works of writing on the three major schools of Chinese philosophical thought: Confucianism, Daoism and Chinese Buddhism.  TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) was explored through a field study on the state of China’s domestic herbal extract industry in which a reliable herbal extract supplier was searched for and found.  Tapping my nearly two decades of China experience, a guidebook to living in China was written.  Two translations were produced from an obscure Chinese philosophical text on the fundamental reformation of Confucian thought and practice. 

You can browse my words and read here…

Upon university administration and instructor advice and encouragement, one of my papers, focused on living in China, was turned into a guidebook and published on Amazon.  Unlike most guidebooks, it introduces and advises use of Chinese philosophy to holistically live healthily, happily and harmoniously in China.

Click on the cover of my book above to learn about it on Amazon.

Wonderful Experience with Caring and Professional Companions

The wonder and joy of life so often lie in the unexpected.  I did not expect to get as much from the program as I did. Along side my language level rising and cultural understanding increasing, my writing, editing, Chinese translation, website creation and Microsoft Word skills jumped up to the level of craft. Additionally, I expanded my network of professional companions, which included the creation of meaningful relationships with members of Blue Marble University’s administration and faculty.

The amount of benefits of The China Program (as well as those of Blue Marble University’s other degree programs) REALLY make it worth looking into as personal or professional option for further education and training–as I hope I have abundantly showed in this blog post!

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