Natasha Harris, Chinese (Mandarin)

Natasha Harris, a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) participant, is the U.S. Department of State’s December 2023 American Abroad Student of the Month. From Miami, Florida, Natasha attended School for Advanced Studies, North Campus, before going to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to study Mandarin Chinese with NSLI-Y.

Natasha has wholeheartedly embraced the NSLI-Y program goals. Her dedication to improving her Chinese language proficiency in Taiwan has been exemplary. Natasha frequently takes the lead in developing innovative strategies to improve her language learning with program staff. Her enthusiasm and commitment to language learning extend beyond the classroom as well. After realizing she was occasionally speaking English with her host dad, Natasha made an agreement with her host family to only speak Chinese with each other. She even started a “fine jar” to follow through on this agreement! Natasha also encourages other program participants to use the target language by speaking only Chinese during program activities and excursions.

Another way that Natasha exemplifies the NSLI-Y program goals is through her involvement in the community. Natasha entered the Chinese and Foreign Language Singing Competition at Wenzao University and achieved an impressive third place with her performance of a song in Chinese. She also joined the university’s Chinese Culture Club, which meets regularly to discuss different aspects of Chinese culture. Through the club, Natasha volunteered for a Saturday morning community service activity to clean up a local beach. Natasha comes from Jamaican heritage and in a unique cultural exchange, she cooked Jamaican food for her host family during the traditional Chinese holiday Mid-Autumn Festival.

Natasha truly embodies the spirit of language and cultural exchange that is at the core of NSLI-Y. She has not only shown remarkable improvement in the target language through her extracurricular and program activities, but she also willingly gives back to the host community through her service.

Congratulations, Natasha!