After learning Mandarin and becoming a reality TV star in China, Archer Bell is now completing his law degree at USask. (Photo: Submitted)

Archer Bell: From reality TV to completing his law degree

On June 2, 2021, Archer Bell will graduate with a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Law, the culmination of a global academic journey that took him overseas to earn a degree in Mandarin from the University of Xiamen, and featured a return trip to China to become a reality TV star.

By Sarah Trefiak

Bell began learning the Chinese language when he was 15 years old, when each Sunday he would go to a local Chinese school for three hours to study.

“I really loved the language,” he explained. “I’ve taken a few different language classes, but Mandarin really stuck.”

During his undergraduate studies at USask, a professor suggested the idea of moving to and studying language in China as a way to become fully fluent in Mandarin.

“I originally applied to go for one year, but I ended up just loving it so much that I stayed and finished the rest of the program,” he said.

Along with focusing on his language studies, Bell taught English to children and worked as a translator and interpreter while in China. He also made an effort to integrate himself in Chinese culture and society as best he could.

“I didn’t want to just be living there and leading a Western life. I wanted to completely immerse myself and learn.”

Since moving back to Saskatoon, Bell has remained connected to the Chinese community through his involvement with the Confucius Institute at USask, where he served as student club president and helped to organize Chinese language and cultural activities on campus.

Following his first year of law school, Bell was granted the opportunity to travel back to China after qualifying to compete in Chinese Bridge—a popular reality television show in the country. He finished top 10 among 150 students from 122 countries in the competition that tested participants’ knowledge of Chinese language, poetry, history, geography and more.

Bell’s other involvements in law school have included working as a teaching assistant in the legal research and writing course, competing as part of the Kawaskimhon and International Academy of Dispute Resolution moot teams, and participating in the 2020 Global Negotiation Conference where he and his teammates received the top honour of Most Constructive Team.

Bell, along with most other graduating students at USask, completed his final year of studies completely online. While at first he was optimistic things would return to normal within months, he has learned to temper his expectations and make the best out of a less-than-ideal situation.

“I still try to meet with my friends and classmates in as safe a way as possible. The other day we biked downtown and went for a walk down by the river,” he said. “We’ve also held some Zoom parties where we can all get online and chat.”

Due to the closure of the law building in March 2020, Bell is already well aware of what he is going to miss most about law school once he graduates.

“I mean the whole experience, but if I had to pick one thing that I’m really going to miss, it would be the law library,” he said. “I literally spent more time there than I did in my own home. I love that place, and I think that’s a common sentiment across the law school populace.”

“In general I’ve just had such a great experience,” he added. “So many professors have made a really profound impact on my life, especially professors like Michaela Keet who just go above and beyond. I didn’t have that experience in my undergraduate degrees. So many faculty members at the College of Law take the time to connect with students and make it a great experience. I’m going to miss that.”

Bell will move to Calgary in July where he will spend the next year articling at Stikeman Elliott LLP. At the moment, he is still unsure of which area he would like to practice in, but he looks forward to experiencing the wide range of opportunities that await him at the firm.

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