International Student Furthers American Cultural Study With Magellan

Created: January 25, 2016  |  Last Updated: July 16, 2020  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

WASHINGTON, PA (January 25, 2016)—When Shulai Yang ’18, an international student from Shanghai, China, decided to attend Washington & Jefferson College (W&J), she was excited to spend four years studying in a new culture. But when she heard about W&J’s Magellan Project, she decided to take that cultural study a step further.

Yang, a Computing and Information Studies (CIS) major, spent a total of three weeks in Hawaii; eight days in Oahu, four days in Kauai, four days in Maui, and six days on the Big Island while she studied Hawaiian culture for her Magellan Project. She knew that even though Hawaii is a part of the United States, the culture and diversity in Hawaii is not something typically found on the mainland, and she wanted to learn more about this part of the country.

“I picked Hawaii because I wanted to know how Hawaii became the crossroad of Eastern and Western culture. As an international student, I wanted to know how to combine Eastern and Western values as an individual,” said Yang.

While in Hawaii, Yang wanted to study as much Hawaiian history as she could, starting with the Polynesian civilization and ending with Pearl Harbor. Each island has their own history and to learn about all of the different islands Yang went to culture centers, state parks, and museums among other historical sites.

The Magellan Project lets students experience something new entirely on their own, whether through an internship or independent study, at home or abroad. This means students are in charge of what they want to study and where they want to travel, giving them an independence unlike any they get in the classroom.

Although there are many challenges to face when adjusting to different cultures, the biggest obstacle Yang had to face was traveling alone in a new place. However, she took this opportunity to challenge herself and learn.

“This particular Magellan project affected me more on a personal level. First, I learned about time management and organization. Secondly, it made me a more independent person and I discovered more about my potentials. Moreover, I learned more about different cultures and it helped me understand diversity,” said Yang.

By immersing themselves in a new culture, students have a unique opportunity through the Magellan Project that Yang would like to encourage others to experience. By challenging herself, Yang hopes her Magellan experience will better prepare her for her future as she wants to attend graduate school after W&J.

“This Magellan experience made me learn more about how to organize myself and manage my time, and this would help me pursue my dreams,” said Yang. “I believe after graduation I would meet more people from different countries, and this experience would prepare me for more experience of communicating with people who had a different background.”

About the Magellan Project

Established in 2008, Washington & Jefferson College’s unique Magellan Project extends liberal arts learning outside the classroom by providing scholarship funding for students to spend the summer pursuing independent projects and internships in the United States and abroad. Learn more about the Magellan Project on the W&J website.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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