Margaret Rauch, a senior majoring in computer science and Chinese, received the Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in East Asian Studies during a graduation ceremony on April 13 that honored students earning degrees from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC). Michel Hockx, director of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies and an EALC professor, presented the award.
A resident of Downers Grove, Illinois, Rauch became interested in studying Chinese after her aunt moved to Beijing to report on the 2008 Olympics. Rauch first began to study Chinese in high school. She spent a summer in southern China and an academic year in Taiwan studying Chinese through the US State Department’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth program. While in Taiwan, she conducted two research projects—one on the Taiwanese view of religious life and the other on comparing grade school mathematics education in Taiwan and the US.
Rauch thrived in her ND Chinese language classes, completing the highest level in her sophomore year. She continued to challenge herself by taking Classical Chinese and designing an independent research project—three semesters of directed readings credit supervised by Hockx, a Chinese literature professor, and Iris Ma, a professor of literary and cultural history of late imperial China. This research examined author Su Xuelin, a May Fourth Intellectual who converted to Catholicism and wrote the novel Thorny Heart, which has yet to be translated into English.
Rauch produced a research paper about the theme of suffering in Thorny Heart as influenced by Confucianism, the May Fourth Movement, and Catholicism. In the paper, Rauch relies on scholarship and primary sources written in Chinese and provides original English translations of key passages of the novel. She received grant funding from the Liu Institute and the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts to support her work. This project inspired her to pursue graduate studies in Chinese.
She also participated in Notre Dame International’s Virtual Global Professional Experience (vGPE) over winter break of 2020. She interned at Xiaomi and worked with a group of ND students to conduct a market research study on smart speakers for the Chinese product team. She was also involved in EALC department events, serving as the emcee of the Midautumn Festival twice and filming a promotional video about her experience in the department.
In addition to activities related to Chinese, Rauch conducted research in natural language processing for three semesters; participated in the International Summer Service Learning Program in rural Tanzania, where she taught English and used grant funding from a Chicago tech company to start a robotics program; and interned for Campus Ministry.
After graduation, she plans to earn a PhD in history with a focus in leveraging digital humanities skills to study Christianity in China.