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Asia excursion includes building relations with existing and new partner colleges and universities in China


New opportunities for study-away in China have resulted from a visit there last fall by a delegation from PLU.

The new initiatives include expanded course offerings at Sichuan University in Chengdu, new possibilities for graduates to teach English at Yangzhou Polytechnic College and a new personnel exchange program between PLU and Sichuan Television, based in Chengdu.

For more than 21, years students from PLU have studied language, culture and business at Sichuan University. Now SU and PLU are working to increase the number of students in that program and to make the courses more challenging by adding community service opportunities for students in Chinese hospitals and middle schools, and a study tour to Tibet.

“We have agreed to work with professors and administrators at Sichuan University to bring more rigorous course- work to the programs there, making them more appropriate for North American students,” said PLU President Loren J. Anderson who led the delegation.

Beijing Summer Service and Learning Program

The Summer Service and Learning Project in Beijing offers a unique immersion experience in Chinese culture and language for American undergraduates. Students are paired with undergraduates from China’s leading Tsinghua University to offer conversational English (American undergraduates) and applied computer knowledge (Chinese undergraduates) to rural areas. There is no need for prior Chinese language knowledge. Each American student will be teamed up with a Chinese student throughout the entire stay. Applications, résumés and letters received by April 1 will be given priority. Contact Susan Mann, director of study away, at mannsm@plu.edu.

“We are also expanding our faculty exchange program and will be working to identify more faculty there who might come to PLU for a semester to teach,” he said.

Later this spring Greg Youtz, the program director for the Chengdu-based program, and other PLU faculty will travel to Chengdu to conduct a workshop for SU faculty who teach PLU students.

Also new in the Sichuan program is a host-family experience for students. One or two times each semester PLU students will be able to spend time in the home of a Sichuan faculty or staff member, have a meal and acquire a deeper sense of what everyday life is like in China.

New opportunities for PLU students to study at the highly regarded Sichuan Conservatory of Music are also under discussion.

On another leg of the trip, Neal Sobania, executive director of the Wang Center, and Wang Center founders

Peter Wang ’60, a PLU regent, and Grace Wang visited Yangzhou Polytechnic College. They signed an agreement that will provide recent PLU graduates the opportunity to teach English as a second language at the college for a semester or a year. They also plan to explore other programs of mutual benefit to the two universities.

These new teaching opportunities, known as Wang Center Teaching Fellowships, began in February. Peter Wang, through his Wang Foundation, has been a central figure internationally in opening doors in China for PLU and other universities, and in advocating for increasing the enrollment of American students studying in China.

Wang has also been urging the Chinese government to increase its funding for education, especially among the rural poor of China.

PLU has also developed a new partnership with Sichuan Television that came as a direct result of a visit last year to PLU by a Sichuan delegation that was arranged by Peter Wang. The station and PLU have agreed to develop a two-way internship exchange for faculty and documentary writers and producers.

While in China, university representatives traveled to Nanjing to participate in the 20th anniversary celebration of the Amity Foundation. This independent, voluntary organization was created by Chinese Christians to promote education, health, social welfare and rural development in China. Loren and MaryAnn Anderson and Neal Sobania participated in sessions including those regarding successful Amity projects in education and health.

Stops for visits with alumni and friends in Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Asian locales were also part of the group’s itinerary.

“Our recent engagements in China have left us in a unique position to enhance our study-away opportunities there,” Anderson said. “As one of only two schools in the Northwest to offer a Chinese studies major, with our long relationship with Sichuan University, and with our new friends in Yangzhou and at Sichuan Television, PLU has arrived at center stage in a critical area of the world.”

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© Scene 2006  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Spring 2006

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