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Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

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Jessica-255

Jessica Beinecke teaches the meaning of the idiom bad apple.

Photo courtesy of: Alumni Association

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Bobcat transcends barriers to school Chinese audiences in American slang


Think you could define the term "oopsie" to a foreign friend?

What about "muffin top" or "cheesy"?

Jessica Beinecke, who graduated in 2008, is one cultural ambassador willing to translate these distinctly American phrases for Mandarin speakers.

As the host of the Voice of America online series "OMG Meiyu," Beinecke teaches American slang and culture in short two- to three-minute segments to a Chinese audience.

Beinecke's approach of pairing lessons with lighthearted joking and pop music has made her an Internet sensation, with devoted followers and even a few copycats.

"If you asked me five years ago what I wanted to be doing, I certainly would not have even been able to fathom what's happening right now," said Beinecke. "Each year is just so much more exciting than the past year."

"OMG Meiyu" broadcasts online every day on YouTube and Twitter, and on their Chinese counterparts, Youku and Weibo. The show has more than 160,000 fans online.

Beinecke discovered her passion for Mandarin while studying public relations at Ohio University. A musician in high school, she abandoned her musical study when she enrolled in the journalism school.

"I was looking for a new outlet," she said. "I'd heard that Mandarin was a musical language and that really intrigued me."

She soon fell in love with the melodic nature of the language and vowed to dedicate her life's work to its study.

"OMG Meiyu" videos recently surpassed 5 million hits in only 3.5 months. Beinecke takes her popularity among her Chinese audience very seriously.

"I have a certain influence, and being a teacher, you need to honor their enthusiasm for you by creating lessons that will help them," she said.

As her students might say, that's "rockin'."