John Gutt-Jankowski

Class Year








John Gutt-Jankowski, ’14, started his study of Chinese long before he came to Carthage, but he knew that the size of the program here would make it easy to continue his education in a language that is considered difficult to master.

“Chinese is unique and I like being unique,” John said. “The size [of the Modern Languages Department] creates a familiarity among the students and staff. This creates a strong emotional bond, which makes it more than memorizing a word but going through the mind to find a memory of when you first heard the word.”

By studying both Chinese and Spanish, John said that when he graduates, he will have learned three of the most important languages in the world. Although he does not think the languages necessarily complement each other, he believes that it gives him the ability to think with both a western and eastern mind.

“Chinese and Spanish are clearly important in business and the world market,” he said. “With most people on the planet speaking Chinese — nearly 1.35 billion and then some — and a large portion of Spanish speakers, I’m tackling the top three languages in the world.”

He has yet to study abroad for his Chinese major, but he spent a month in Summer 2011 studying in Costa Rica through a program suggested to him by Prof. Edward Montanaro.

While in Costa Rica, John stayed with a host family in the country’s capital, San Jose, and got to travel to different parts of the country. He said that the most important thing that he learned was how to get used to living in another country and becoming accustomed to different accents.

Through Carthage, he had the opportunity to teach Chinese at a local elementary school in Kenosha. Also, as a sophomore, John was the Chinese Club president.

“This past year I have had the opportunity to actually teach Chinese to a group of second graders at Roosevelt Elementary in Kenosha,” John said. “It really is so sweet to teach to younger kids; they get really excited whenever I would come in to start their lessons.”

“This [the size of the department] creates a strong emotional bond, which makes it more than memorizing a word, but going through the mind to find a memory of when you first heard the word.”

John Gutt-Jankowski, ’14

Career goal

“To be a writer or translator; I’m still unsure at the moment.”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

Mimi Yang has been an influential guide in my college career and I deeply appreciate all that she has done. She’s helped me in both Chinese and Spanish. She has insight that broadens my own thinking to the point where I can come up with different ideas I would have never thought of before.”

Favorite class

“Every Chinese class has been interesting. Another class would have to be the Heritage classes.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“Just relaxing in the library study rooms alone. When at home and even at school, I never seem to get enough alone time, so I appreciate the down time to study or just relax.”

Favorite spot on campus

“Einstein’s by the window on a sunny day.”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“Chinese is not as intimidating as it seems. People learn at a slow pace and to do well, you just need to take time to practice tones. If you want, get together and practice with a classmate. Also, flash cards will help significantly.”