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Q&A: Colin Legerton

September 15, 2009|By Melanie Hicken

Colin Legerton, who grew up in Glendale and graduated from Flintridge Preparatory School in 2001, is the co-author of "Invisible China: A Journey Through Ethnic Borderlands." He graduated from Tufts University in 2005 with a degree in Chinese language and literature.olin Legerton, who grew up in Glendale and graduated from Flintridge Preparatory School in 2001, is the co-author of "Invisible China: A Journey Through Ethnic Borderlands." He graduated from Tufts University in 2005 with a degree in Chinese language and literature.

"Invisible China" follows his trek through China with classmate and friend Jacob Rawson to speak with ethnic minorities throughout rural China. He will be speaking about his adventures and the book at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Central Library. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Glendale Public Library.

MELANIE HICKEN: So what brought you to China?

COLIN LEGERTON: Well, I started studying Chinese in college, and I really wanted to study abroad, so I went to China. As I was there, one of my classmates and I discovered that we traveled really well together.

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So after I graduated I went to a different part of China and lived there for a while and started to come up with this idea for a trek all around the borderlands to meet the minorities.

Q: What sparked your interest in China?

A: I'd always been interested in languages. I studied Spanish here, like everybody else. When I went to college, I wanted to do something a little tougher. And growing up here, a lot of my friends were Chinese, so I'd go to their houses on the weekends and hear their parents speaking Chinese, so that one really stuck out for me.

Q: Are you fluent in Chinese?

A: Yeah, pretty much all of the conversations that are in the book were spoken in Chinese. I also studied Uyghur, which is a language in western China. And my friend Jacob knows Korean, which some people speak in northeastern China. So some of the conversations were from Uyghur or Korean, but everything else is Chinese.

Q: I've heard it's a very hard language to learn. How long did it take you?

A: Well, I'm still learning. I studied all through college, but really I learned more in just living there. For the first two weeks of living there, I learned more than two years at Tufts.

It's an ongoing process. But in some ways its easier; the grammar of Chinese is very easy, but then you have the tones and characters.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the book.

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