By John Curran
The start of the fall 2015 semester at Washington College was exciting for new freshmen and faculty alike. One of the newest additions to the WC faculty is David Hull, assistant professor of Chinese language, literature, and culture. Dr. Hull brings a new, previously unavailable language to WC along with a wealth of international experience.
Dr. Hull most recently worked at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., a college that Hull notes as being reminiscent of WC. Hull has a Ph.D. and a Master of Arts from UCLA, along with a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts from UCSB. In the past, Hull has worked in theatre and the military, and has spent time teaching English in China.
Having spent so much time in recent years abroad in Asian megacities, Dr. Hull spoke fondly of Chestertown, a place he likens strongly to his childhood in Oklahoma. “For the longest time I’ve been living in megalopolis cities, like Los Angeles, Beijing, Shanghai, and all of these giant places. The first thing that really struck me as I was driving in – was that it started to feel very similar to Oklahoma,” said Hull.
Despite a sense of relief associated with returning to the rural charm of Chestertown and WC, Hull still holds a strong passion for the Chinese language and Asian culture. “My own history is a very strange road. A very long time ago I was doing theatre work in Manhattan. I would often find myself with like an hour or two between my temp job and my theatre work, and I would usually end up somehow stuck in Chinatown,” said Hull, recounting how his fascination of China began here in the United States. In particular, Hull cited the visual nature of Chinatown as the hook that first attracted his attention, and would later lead to him investigating the complexities of Chinese written characters in his free time.
Ending his theatre career, Hull then joined the Army where his interest in the Chinese language was eventually rewarded. “The Army has a language institute in Monterey, Calif., and they tested me into Russian, and I was angry. I didn’t want to do Russian, so I fought and I fought, and I got into Chinese, and found out that I really, really loved it,” said Hull.
Now a professor at WC, Hull offers students the opportunity to learn the Chinese language both spoken and written. “My personal hope is that, students who come in as freshmen will take first year Chinese and second year, then they can go away and do a semester abroad in China, and that will get them about a year’s worth of Chinese,” said Hull, when asked about his teaching goals. With a year of Chinese, Hull expects students will not be fluent but certainly proficient and fully capable of comfortably studying abroad in China.
As an alternative to the more commonly learned romance languages such as Spanish, French, or Italian, the presence of Chinese offers a greater degree of choice for language inclined students. Whether studying international studies, political science, business, or just interested in Chinese language and culture, a strong understanding of the Chinese language could prove to be a very useful tool for many WC undergraduates.
Dr. Hull can be found in Goldstein 109 where he is more than happy to meet with students interested in learning about the Chinese language or culture. More information about Chinese, about the WC language department, and about Dr. Hull can be found within the modern languages section of the WC main website.