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Taking care of business, in Mandarin

Klara Hlavon came in third place for her Chinese Square Dancing at the Chinese Bridge Competition earlier this year, showcasing her appreciation for Chinese culture.

A once in a lifetime opportunity has come for the second time for this third-year U of T Scarborough management student, who received another government scholarship to study in China. 

Klara Hlavon previously visited the country to study Mandarin for a year. She could focus on learning the language, something she felt she could not do at UTSC because of her busy academic schedule. 

“Here, I’m focused on all the other classes and it feels like you’re wasting time if you’re not studying what you should be studying,” Hlavon says. 

While in China, she improved her Mandarin skills over her 10-month stay, though she felt that it was not enough. 

“There is a proficiency test with six levels, so when I went there I could barely past the third level. When I left, I passed the fifth. It sounds like a lot, but even if you pass the sixth level you can barely read the newspaper because it’s difficult,” she says.

Now she is planning on returning to China, not to study the language but to better understand Chinese business and the vocabulary she needs to communicate in Mandarin about her program of study and future career path. She hopes to complete the Non-Degree Business Studies program at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing, starting in September. The scholarship she received will pay for tuition, room, and board while she is in China, she says this will help her stay focused on study without worrying about having to work or save money. 

For Hlavon, the point is to be able to communicate in Mandarin even if she does not ultimately move to China to continue her career. She sees this scholarship as an opportunity to better understand Chinese culture and with China being Canada’s second largest trading partner, she expects more Chinese executives playing a role here.

“I’m really excited about learning about my field of study in Mandarin. Even though I can talk about conversational stuff, if you can’t talk about what you study, it’s like ‘what’s the point?’” she says. 


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