Communications student Sara Jane Aubrey shares how an experiential learning opportunity has enhanced her time at BYU
In spring 2019, I had the opportunity to travel to China with the BYU Spectacular as a member of the media team. BYU Communications professor Adam Durfee, another student and I were largely responsible for creating Chinese social media channels as well as creating content — specifically videos — to be posted. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are not allowed in China, so they use other channels like WeChat, Weibo and YouKu. While creating these accounts on these platforms, we had the goal to help the Chinese social media community have an increased knowledge of what BYU is like. We created a variety of videos before we left for China that showed different parts of campus, discussed the variety of majors available at BYU and had testimonials from current BYU students from China. While in the country, we documented BYU students practicing, performing and experiencing the culture in China.
I had been dreaming of going to China ever since I was called to serve a mission in Manchester England, speaking the Mandarin Chinese language. While China was incredible and I could talk for hours about the spiritual, powerful and inspiring experiences I had, there were unplanned experiences that were exceptionally enriching. These challenging, stressful and amazing experiences actually started before I even left for China, as my visa didn’t come until two days before!
There were instances in China where I was thrown into situations that I felt I was unprepared for, like translating for President Worthen. Many times, before the show was about to start, President Worthen would go out in the lobby and shake hands with guests, some high ranking Chinese officials and some fans of BYU. Since the university hadn’t necessarily planned for these occurrences or arranged for an interpreter, I was often roped into translating. It was amazing, as many people who came and introduced themselves to President Worthen had been individuals who had seen the original BYU Spectacular 40 years ago. They spoke of how they had remembered the performers with fondness since then. I’m glad I was able to help them to relay their emotions to President Worthen. I also was able to translate for various interviews with Chinese Government officials. One in particular even had two daughters who had attended BYU! They spoke with love and admiration for the school.
Since I came home from my mission, the Chinese people have stayed near and dear to my heart. This experience in China was an amazing reminder of how truly special and pure in heart they are. I was able to invite one of my converts to the Spectacular and started tearing up when I saw him walking into the theater in Shanghai. Heavenly Father loves His Chinese children so much and uses unconventional ways to bring them a taste of His Spirit and light. I was able to feel so strongly of His love for them while I was there.
The publication of student articles allows the College of Fine Arts and Communications to highlight the experiential learning opportunities and behind-the-scenes experiences of students and faculty and tell stories with a unique voice and point of view. Submit your story at cfac.byu.edu.