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Student Research Translates Into Broader Horizons

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Tingting Ji is proficient in four languages: Chinese, French, English, and Italian. So when she saw an email about an undergraduate research award that involved translating, the Foreign Languages and Literatures major leapt at the opportunity.

The video below describes the project and its impact on this undergraduate researcher.

Ji worked under the guidance of Ileana Chirila, a postdoctoral teaching scholar in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, to examine Sino-French literature, that is, literary works produced in French by writers of Chinese origin.

“We looked at articles, studies, all kinds of papers written by Chinese writers who were living in Paris or other parts of the world,” says Ji. “We were interested in seeing how those works were received in China.”

“With Tingting’s skills, she could translate articles and summarize them in French and in English,” says Chirila. “We could look at some of the articles published in China and in Mandarin, and see how the whole Sino-French phenomenon was received in China.”

The project had personal ramifications for Ji. As her skills increased, so did her confidence. She  made connections with other faculty members, to whom she turned for help translating particular phrases. And realizing how much she enjoyed the research, she decided to pursue graduate work in international studies.

Ji’s stipend supported her travel to different cities to research specific literature. It also paid for equipment necessary for translating.

“NC State provided not only the funds but also the environment to get the project done,” says Chirila. Chirila’s project is part of the college’s drive to get more undergraduates involved with research.

Humanities and Social Sciences Associate Dean Vicki Gallagher has spearheaded the effort that provides small grants made possible through contributions to the NC State University Foundation and other sources.

“These research projects give students hands-on mentoring in how to be a researcher,” says Gallagher. “It’s akin to an apprenticeship. And while the experience has a profound and lasting impact on the students, the resulting research produces new knowledge that is of value to others as well.”

Gallagher hopes to make funds available again this year.

Want to support student research? You can make a life-changing experience possible for a student with your gift to the CHASS Enhancement Fund.

The video that appears above was produced by students in COM 437, Advanced Digital Video, in 2014.