New program attracts Chinese students to the Hill

Marlene Brueggemann

A new program will bring international flavor to the political science department and give Chinese citizens an American touch.

Western is welcoming two groups of Chinese students this year who are pursuing masters of public administration degrees on the Hill.

The first cohort, a group of five, arrived on Feb. 6 and is associated with the English as a Second Language Institute. Western contracts with ESLI, which is the major recruiting arm of the international studies program, said Robin Borczon, director of International Programs.

Geng Li, a student from the Guangxi province, located in the south of China, said he and his fellow students enjoyed their first weeks at Western.

The program is supported by the Chinese government, Li said. Li and the other students are pursuing MPAs to help solve problems that arise from the urbanization China is experiencing.

He said he didn’t know what to expect when he came to Western.

“It is much better than I imagined,” Li said.

Li and Zhan Zhoa, also a student from the Guangxi province, said they both miss their families most.

A second group will arrive on the Hill in the fall. This program is being organized by Division for Extended Learning and Outreach.

Manon Pardue, coordinator of corporate training for DELO, said her office will be in charge of the English as a second language program for the second cohort.

Pardue said the cohort is expected to consist of 20 to 25 students, but there are no specifics at this time.

“We are really excited about this program, because it gives an international flavor to our program,” said Saundra Ardrey, political science department head. “And this is not only good for the Chinese, who get a quality program, but it is a multicultural experience for our students.”

After a semester of intensive English study, the students will start three semesters of coursework in spring 2005.

Besides classes, DELO and the political science department plan extracurricular activities for cultural exchange and community outreach, as well as field trips to acquaint students with regional attractions.

Ardrey said the department also plans a lecture series to “take advantage of the expertise of our visitors,” and gain insight into a socialist society.

“We hope that there will be a free exchange of ideas,” Ardrey said.

John Petersen, associate vice president of academic affairs, said Western has received several inquiries for programs from China but won’t take part in any more for now.

“We want to work our way through this one and gain some experience before we commit ourselves with others,” Petersen said.

But contracts signed on Jan. 13 provide an opportunity for faculty to visit China as a follow up to assure the program is meeting the needs and objectives of the Chinese students, Ardrey said.

Reach Marlene Brueggemann at [email protected].