Charles Synder (center) in China
Charles Synder (center) in China

Becoming Sinophone

Charles  Snyder

Class of 2021 • Stonington, Connecticut
Longing to become fluent in Chinese, economics major Charles Snyder ‘21 headed to China to spend a semester studying abroad. After enduring the almost 20-hour flight, he knew he was ready for the challenge, but had no idea how rewarding the experience would end up being.


As a study abroad student, seeing the sights, learning the area, and making new friends are all to be expected. But, after visiting a local elementary school, Snyder recognized that this trip was much more profound. Holding perfectly natural conversations with the children, he realized that his Chinese had significantly improved.

“It was incredibly rewarding to see that I was at a point where natives could understand me, without the need for ridiculous hand motions or roundabout explanations,” he described.

Figuring he would study abroad at Washington College, Charles didn’t anticipate how much this decision would anticipate his future plans. Now, he is confident he would be comfortable with a career based in Asia, rather than simply working for a company in the United States that regularly deals with the Asian economy.

For his economics Senior Capstone Experience, Charles plans to look at the role that language plays for English and Chinese speakers in the global marketplace. Combining an extensive knowledge of economic principles with advanced translating skills and an understanding of Chinese culture and government, this truly culminating project will incorporate the best of both his economics degree with his Asian studies minor.

Back on the Eastern Shore, head down to the Chester River to find Snyder hanging out and working hard with his closest friends and teammates on the men’s rowing team.

“They have pushed me to achieve what I never thought possible before coming to college,” he reflects. Not only has this team formed his core group of friends, but it has helped him flourish as a student, athlete, and most importantly, as a young adult.

Beyond rowing, he continues to make the most out of his college experience - attending on-campus events and starting traditions of his own. From Dumpling Night with the Asian Studies Department to a Friendsgiving celebration at a friend’s apartment, Charles’s experience is unique, but not uncommon for a student here. At Washington College, you can truly do it all.



Charles's Four Year Plan

Year 1

Favorite Class Honors Environmental Archaeology

Professor Julie Markin’s Environmental Archaeology class was far from traditional. The work was hands-on and the assignments were a blast to complete, making it never truly feel like work. He even genuinely enjoyed writing the final paper, a statement rarely spoken on a college campus. At the conclusion of the class, Charles reflected, “If I had to pick a major other than economics, I would probably choose archaeology now.”

Year 2

Campus LifeMen's Rowing

Charles found his home on campus with the men’s rowing team. “Rowing has and continues to be a big part of my life at Washington College,” he says. Joining as a freshman was one of his best decisions, providing the support he needed to grow immensely as a person over his first two years on the Eastern Shore. Pushing him to achieve more every day, Charles is truly grateful for the constant support his teammates have provided.

Year 3

Learn by DoingStudy Abroad in China

Albeit a rather lengthy plane ride, Charles's study abroad experience, was nothing but positive. After a visit to a local elementary school, he realized that his Chinese had exponentially improved, as he was holding natural conversations with the children. “I could understand them and they could understand me,” he remarked, “it was an incredibly rewarding realization”.

Year 4

Looking forward to Using His Chinese Language 

Whether it’s a job with the State Department or an international company, Charles wants to put his language skills to use on a regular basis after graduation. As an economics major, he has big plans for his Senior Capstone Experience, as well - looking into the language that English and Chinese speakers use to describe the marketplace and other economic systems. Requiring not only knowledge of economics, but also strong translation skills, Charles is ready for the challenge.