July 14, 2009
Some Santa Clara college students go home or to the beach or Lake Tahoe with their families for their summer vacation. Santa Clara volleyball player Tanya Schmidt (TS), who carries a 3.943 cumulative gpa into her sophomore year as an English major, went a different path this summer. For a month this summer she is studying Mandarin in Taipei, Taiwan, learning more about her mother, Lillian Schmidt, and the culture where her mother grew up.
As a freshman last year for the Broncos, Schmidt started every match and earned WCC All-Freshman team after knocking down 169, hitting .301, with 65 blocks and 22 digs. She is a 2008 graduate of Harker High School in San Jose, Calif. where she was a 2007 Prep Volleyball All-American and Academic All-American.
Santa Clara, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round last season and finished the year at No. 25 nationally, is looking to make its 11th straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009 under head coach Jon Wallace.
Below Schmidt, who lists Santa Clara Rhodes Scholar Noelle Lopez as one of the reasons she chose Santa Clara, checks in with SantaClaraBroncos.com about where she has been in Taiwan, why she is learning Mandarin and why she is psyched for the volleyball season to start.
SCU: Sounds like are having a really interesting summer. where are you?
TS: Taipei, Taiwan.
SCU: Who are you staying with?
TS: My aunt's family.
SCU: What are you doing there?
TS: I am taking Mandarin classes at the National Taipei University of Education as part of an intensive language immersion program. It's intense! The classes are Monday - Friday, from 9am-4:30pm.
SCU: Is it for college credit?
TS: No, it's not for college credit, just personal interest. This week I will take an internationally-recognized Chinese Proficiency Test. If I pass, I will be awarded a certification of proficiency in Mandarin.
SCU: What languages do you speak?
TS: English, Spanish, Latin (well, I don't speak it, but I've studied it) and now Mandarin.
SCU: Wow, that's a lot of languages! And you are doing it for personal reasons - not for college credit. That's even more impressive. Why did you decide to do this?
TS: I want to understand and connect more with my mom's culture. She was born in Taipei and moved to the US after marriage. Taiwan is also known as Formosa, meaning "beautiful (island)" in Portuguese. After my month long stay here, I wholeheartedly agree with the name. I think that the Chinese culture is beautiful and I am grateful to have had this opportunity to be immersed in it!
SCU: So you are in classes basically all day Monday-Friday. Are you doing anything besides going to class?
TS: Yes! I am enjoying hanging out with my relatives and sightseeing! Last week we went to the observation deck of Taipei 101, currently the world's tallest building. Another weekend we visited Yeh Liu to see the beautiful, nature-carved rock formations. My favorite was the Fairy's Shoe, and the really famous one is the Queen's Head: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yehliu.
SCU: Where the students come from that are in your Mandarin classes?
TS: The program is international so my classmates come from the United States, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and China.
SCU: With so much time spent in class, have you had a chance to play any volleyball?
TS: I haven't had a chance to play volleyball, but I try to work out at the university gym as often as I can. I miss playing volleyball a lot!
SCU: When do your classes finish up? Any idea when do you come back to Santa Clara?
TS: The program lasts for one month. I fly back the day after my last class so that I can make it to SCU in time to coach the last day volleyball camp.
SCU: Last question - any goals for this season? Bet you can't wait to hit the gym in August?!
TS: I am so excited for the upcoming season and am smiling thinking about it! I can't wait to return to playing some Bronco volleyball. I am looking forward to seeing my teammates and coaches again and getting to the incoming freshmen better.