Becky Best

China Instructor

M.A. East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University; M.A. Regional Studies: East Asia; B.A. Religious Studies (cum laude with Distinction), Yale University

Becky’s first real glimpse of China’s culture was through a college seminar on Chinese women’s poetry, and her life has never been the same since. Ever an eager student, she has explored China from every angle books and classrooms could show her, from art and film, to religion and literature, to politics and anthropology.

Even from the beginning, though, it was clear to her that the living China she sought to understand had to be experienced for itself. Her particular interest in Buddhism led her to study abroad in Tibet, first for a summer, then for a year at Tibet University. While living in Lhasa, Becky immersed herself in Tibetan language study, hopped on pilgrim buses, and learned to like butter tea and love Tibetan yogurt.

During her graduate study, she spent several summers based in Beijing. In the archives, she researched Tibetan Buddhist temple festivals in imperial Beijing, and on the streets, she explored the life of those neighborhoods today. Those criss-crossing lines through space and time took her to temples in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia, where Tibetan Buddhism has been a culture-broker for centuries.

These days, she teaches Mandarin and Global Studies to high school and middle school girls near Philadelphia. Besides adventures in East Asia and East Asian studies, she also enjoys cultivating plants, taking in the great outdoors, and making art out of whatever is at hand.