A Letter from Hank Abbott 马致远, Oriental DreamWorks

April 9, 2018
Hank Abbott

Manager of Creative Services at Oriental DreamWorks in Shanghai

Hank Abbott 马致远
December 2017

The OSU Chinese Flagship Program opened many pathways for me that would have otherwise been inaccessible. While participating in the program, my research focus was on the cultural reasons behind why Hollywood films are so accepted by the Chinese audience, and because of my research into this topic, I was able to find my way into the film industry and now currently work as the Manager of Creative Services at Oriental DreamWorks in Shanghai. In this position, I work with and manage the creative teams behind future global animation feature films that will bring Chinese stories to the world. Not only did the program give me the skill of the Chinese language, but it also instilled in me a mental toughness and desire to be constantly curious about the world around me. I rely upon these traits on a daily basis.

Firstly, although Shanghai is an extremely international city, and Chinese is not an essential skill to be able to live and work here, being able to speak Chinese has been immensely helpful in my life and work. Because of my ability to speak Chinese, I have been able to form relationships and make advancements very quickly. While almost all of my foreign coworkers do not speak any Chinese, the Chinese I learned while doing the Flagship Program made me an essential team member, and gave me unique and valuable perspectives to daily problems. In my current role, I need to manage an international team of artists and make concepts and ideas flow freely between different languages and cultures, without having graduated from Flagship, I would not be able to do this.

Secondly, while I couldn’t be happier about my current work and life in Shanghai, getting to this point was not exactly easy. Living on the other side of the world, forming relationships, finding the job I wanted and then growing in that company, had many ups and downs. However, Flagship made me a mentally tougher person. Without having the experience of living in China during the program and writing a master’s thesis in an extremely difficult language, I can confidently say that I would not be as able to face problems as well as I am able to today.

Finally, while doing Flagship, I was constantly studying. If I wasn’t reading or watching some Chinese movie, I was most likely looking at my dictionary or flashcards. This constant study made me a more curious person about the world around me. Without being curious, finding the roots of problems and new and difficult pathways to forge forward on would be too daunting to even attempt. Flagship gave me the desire to constantly learn and improve, which is essential to adapting to the quickly changing Chinese business landscape.

Although the Flagship program went by in a flash, with just one quick year in Columbus and a second year living in Beijing, it left an indelible impact on my life. Whenever I meet anyone interested in truly improving their Chinese and becoming intimately involved with Chinese culture, I always mention Flagship and all of the things it did for me. I know that moving forward in my current profession or any other ventures, I will continue to use the skills that Flagship gave me.