As a student in the intensive CLI program, I received four hours of private Chinese lessons every weekday, which, as you can imagine, dramatically improved my language skills. On some days, if I got up early enough, I even participated in dawn tai chi classes with Colok, a Chinese teacher who regularly practices this ancient martial art with “his” students on CLI’s spacious rooftop. My relatives, friends, and university colleagues who are going to learn Chinese ask me to tell them about my experience in Guilin and how I have succeeded so quickly in learning the language. I also spent several hours in one of CLI’s many study booths in the afternoon, surrounded by textbooks and flashcards, reviewing the material I had learned in class. On weekends, when there was daylight, I biked along the Li River or participated in one of CLI’s weekly excursions-the famous Yangsho Baths, the ribbon-like rice terraces of Lunsheng, and the ancient villages preserved among the bamboo forests were just some of the frequently visited places. When the hallways became noisy again, I headed to my second two-hour class, where I moved on to a new class, corrected a written essay or took the opportunity to review the material under the guidance of my experienced teacher. Although I had studied Chinese for several years in the United States, I always thought my language potential would only truly unfold in China. Put these two pictures together, add a few hundred karst limestone mountains, and you find yourself in Guilin, a strange and refreshing corner of southern China, a special place where I was lucky enough to spend my summer vacation. CLI, a language and culture school whose mission is to build bridges between China and the rest of the world, would be the ultimate catalyst for developing my love of the Mandarin language. Once I decided I needed to find a way to get there, I searched the Internet for language schools to attend and came across the Chinese Language Institute, or CLI for short. On days when I was feeling particularly confident, I would sit at one of the Mandarin Only tables and try my best to keep up with the native speakers as they interacted with the students and teachers.