At age 11, Ming Canaday left the Chinese orphanage she had lived in her entire life and started a new life with her adoptive family in the United States. @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&s=ming@@
“I feel like I’ve lived two lives — one there and one here,” Canaday said of China. “Life there is like a lifetime ago.”
Now, nine years later, Canaday, a University sophomore studying international relations and Chinese, has dedicated her education to learning about her native country. She hopes doing so will help her to make a difference for its people.
“Most people don’t get the opportunity to go back to the past and change things,” Canaday said of her numerous trips back to China. “I feel like I have that opportunity.”
With the funds from the prestigious Boren Scholarship awarded to Canady for her interest in China, Canaday plans to return in January for a five-month study abroad program followed by a four-month long internship. @@http://www.borenawards.org/@@
But for Canaday, the experience is about more than studying in a foreign country. It is an opportunity to give back.
As a child, Canaday suffered from a severe case of scoliosis that required a 24-hour surgery to treat when she came to the United States. Without the surgery, she likely would have died by 20, Canaday said. Post-polio, a condition that affects polio survivors years after they were affected by the virus, has also left Canaday physically handicapped. She plans to use this opportunity to return to China to offer the aid that she received to others in its physically disabled population.
“I want to see what it’s like to just live as a disabled person in China,” Canaday said. “I think it will give me a lot of insight into how disabled people’s day to day lives are and how they manage the inaccessibleness of China.”
The Boren Scholarship, awarded to undergraduate students who plan to study abroad in countries critical to U.S. interests, provides up to $20,000 to its recipients. Canaday was one of 151 who received the scholarship this year — 944 applied. Combined with her other financial aid, Canaday expects the award to cover the entire cost of her trip.
“I applied because I thought it was a good opportunity,” Canaday said, adding that she hopes the program and following internship could lead to job after graduation.
“It’s the opportunity to get a job right after undergrad and see how the government functions so that I could know how the policies and legal side of things work,” Canaday said. She plans to use this understanding of government policy to “help create laws and policies that help the disabled population.”
And as for apprehensions about leaving her family for nearly a year to go halfway around the world, Canaday is far from concerned.
“I just felt at home with the country,” Canaday said of previous trips to China. “I grew up there. It didn’t feel like a foreign country.”