Charissa lived her young days on the rural lands of China, where love for international teaching strengthened in her heart as she grew up. Her mother taught ESL to university students, often bringing Charissa and her brother to class for English dialogues with the Chinese nationals.
“I was the only blonde child in the city, so the students were excited,” she said with a laugh.
Taiwan isn’t China, but for Charissa it’s close enough to restore her Mandarin speaking fluency and touch the life she knew as a child:
“When I think about living in China, it feels like a separate life. It’s such a stark contrast between then and now.”
After a decade, childhood friends are Facebook friends and Charissa's nearest proximity to South Asia is the local high school where she just finished teaching ESL students from Thailand and Burma. Hints of her past have flickered in and out of college life, but explaining the rhythm of rural China to her peers is like teaching English to non-native speakers.
Charissa's empathy for cross-cultural learners comes alive in the classroom, as observed by Dr. Johnson and other Northwestern faculty.
“One of Charissa’s many strengths is her care and love for people, language and culture,” said Johnson,
“Her smile is contagious and makes people comfortable around her.”