Lara LoBrutto

Lara LoBrutto is a junior majoring in international relations and minoring in Chinese. She may be reached at

My encounters with ‘face’

While I was in Beijing this summer, I reached out to a friend of a friend who I was hoping would give me some insight into her industry. When my friend sent an email introducing the two of us, she responded immediately with an invitation to her office. When I arrived in Beijing, I sent […]

A campus in Beijing

The first thing that struck me about my college campus in Beijing was the mix of concrete and lush gardens, which somehow looked out-of-place in the urban atmosphere. The flatness, too, was unfamiliar — no hikes up the hill to class. Students on motorbikes zoomed through the winding streets. Some wore masks — but only when the air […]

In pursuit of soft power

When I went to Beijing this past summer, I made a vow to myself that I would immerse myself in China’s media. I would read only Chinese magazines and books, listen to purely Chinese music and watch Chinese television exclusively. By the last weeks, though, I found myself binge-watching “Game of Thrones” (2011 – present) — at […]

To be a little emperor

I had one thing in common with almost every Chinese-born person I met this summer in Beijing: I am an only child. “You are Chinese!” they would joke, smiling welcomingly as I had suddenly gained membership to their private club. It is true that a majority of Chinese people born in the past few decades […]

Foreign Attitudes

One night in the Houhai district of Beiijing, some friends and I chanced upon a bar that had a stage but no performers. My two very musical friends persuaded the owner to let them perform. I was fascinated by their small audience, a group of three young women and a man. One of the women […]

Coiling around the core of the essay

As a Tufts Writing Fellow, I recently met with a Chinese student to discuss her paper for a social science class. I was struck by the language she had used, which was more engaging than what I am used to seeing in academic papers, cushioned with metaphors and humor. It took me a couple reads […]

A parent’s love is like a mountain

While I was in China, I was assigned to a family with whom I spent time on weekends. My “mom” was the epitome of a modern mom, maybe even a bit futuristic: a lawyer with purple- and blue-streaked hair (I am not making this up, I swear). She wore stilettos on weekend outings, and her […]

The art of memorization

For Chinese students, a significant slice of the pie called education involves recitation. They start with simple poems and stories and move on to more advanced literature, eventually memorizing English works as well. That’s what my Chinese university friends told me this summer over a delicious family-style dinner. They were shocked — their exact reactions […]

Once the saliva settles

Up until high school, I was a major germophobe when it came to food-sharing. By the time I reached college though, I grew accustomed to friends taking bites out of my sandwich, giving me a spoonful of their froyo or taking a sip out of my solo cup. College is no place for germophobes, and […]

Boston Film Festival shorts provide forgettable entertainment

This past Sunday, the Revere Hotel screened a series of short films ranging in length from 3 minutes to half an hour as part of the Boston Film Festival. The crowd consisted of middle-aged to elderly Bostonians and a smattering of college students. Since short films are not generally shown in mainstream theaters, opportunities to […]