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Yile Gu and Jonathan Martin – Rose-Hulman sparks global friendship
May 26, 2012
Many times it is the circumstances
that we are in that create friendships. That can be said for Yile
Gu and Jonathan Martin, both fast-track graduating seniors in
chemical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
It was the Fast Track Calculus that first brought these two
young men together three years ago - one from Nantong in Jiangsu
Province, China, and the other from Indianapolis. "When you work in
a group, you spend so much time together, so you get to know each
other," Martin says.
The two were part of one group of the 50 or so incoming freshmen
working on pre-calculus in five weeks at Rose-Hulman. Once the
large group was pared down into smaller working groups, the pair
found themselves working together. From there, the friendship
While each has learned from the other, Gu loves to talk about
how Martin and another Rose-Hulman student and friend, Jordan
Chipka, taught him about baseball. Martin played baseball his
freshmen year and is a "huge" Texas Rangers fan, since he's
originally from Texas. And because the Rangers have been in the
World Series the past couple of years, it was a good opportunity to
teach Gu about baseball.
"I never saw baseball in China, so he taught me the rules," Gu
Gu, in return, taught Martin about Chinese culture and taught
him some phrases in Chinese - including hi and thank you. Martin
says he's also learning to write some characters. But that, he
says, is much more difficult.
The two joined Chipka as roommates in an off-campus apartment
after freshmen year. There the friendship grew, and Gu often spent
school breaks staying with Martin and his family in
"I've had a great time with them and it's been great living with
them to see real life and learn," Gu says.
At one point during the past three years, Martin's family was
planning a trip to Cancun, so they asked Gu to go with them. "He
had never been to Mexico, so he was excited," Martin says.
Then Gu wanted to return the favor. So, he asked Martin to go
with him and his family to China.
That's the next big adventure for the two international friends.
Gu's parents came to the United States to see their son graduate
from Rose-Hulman, and to take a trip to the East Coast and also to
visit Gu's next stop, Princeton University.
The family will celebrate the graduation with Martin's family at
their Indianapolis home. And then, almost immediately, Martin will
be flying off with Gu and his parents for a month's-long trip to
"It's the first time in his life he will go to China," Gu says
excitedly. And Martin adds that it will be the biggest trip of his
"We'll be there about a month and he's planning to take me
town-to-town, city-to-city," Martin says. "It's something I've
always wanted to do and it was kind of a spur of the moment
The two will then return to the U.S. where they will part ways
to pursue their next adventures. Gu will be in a five-year MS/PhD.
program at Princeton University's Chemical and Biological
Engineering Department. Martin will be working for Marathon Oil in
Kentucky. However, the two say they are going to try to stay in
touch and visit each other when they can, as well as Chipka who
will graduate from Rose-Hulman next year.
"We're definitely going to try to stay in touch," Martin
"I made great friends here," Gu adds.