As a part of its ongoing academic and cultural exchange with Jiangsu Second Normal University in Nanjing, China, Bluefield College hosted a group of three Chinese students and a professor on campus this spring, not only to learn more about the people, culture, history and language of the People’s Republic, but also to share the American way of life with their newfound international friends.
Bluefield College has participated in the study exchange program with Jiangsu since the fall of 2009, sending BC students and a professor to China during one of the semesters of an academic year and welcoming Chinese students and a professor to Bluefield in the other academic semester.
This spring, the visiting Chinese students included Mao Ran, an economics and trade major at Jiangsu; Zhang Yu, an English education major; Wang Ke, an English education major; and Liao Wenmeg, a professor at Jiangsu. The group spent part of the semester giving cultural presentations on the Bluefield College campus and taking classes with BC students.
“I like the teaching methods here, because I have more freedom at class and I can show my feeling more directly than in a Chinese class,” said Ke, known by her English name Iris. “And I like the students here. I think they are very helpful, and they are very warm hearted. They are so kind.”
The visiting Chinese students also participated in conversation sessions with BC students, giving them an opportunity to participate in more personal dialogue and interaction. Among the specific classes they took were fundamentals of speech, literature and healing, and Biblical perspectives.
“I enjoyed the scenery [of Bluefield],” said Yu, known by his English name Jason, “and some classes like creative writing with [Dr. Rob] Merritt.”
Among their presentation topics on Chinese culture: snack food, Chinese traditional festivals, and information on the city of Nanjing.
“I learned a lot about their culture, specifically the meaning of the color red and the importance of the Chinese New Year for them,” said BC junior Nicole Benedito. “It is awesome to learn about other cultures and to interact with people from another country. It gives us a chance to learn about China without getting in an airplane.”
Bluefield College will return the favor by sending student Trevor Tucker and professor Dr. Kim Farmer to Jiangsu in May. The China exchange with Jiangsu is designed to “promote educational cooperation,” “friendly ties” and “mutual benefits” and is just one part of the school’s overall Global Education initiative to “prepare globally-minded students who impact the world.”
“It is important for Bluefield College students to have an international experience and learn about other cultures,” said Dr. Maria Zalduondo, director of BC’s Global Education Program. “We give students the opportunity to travel to different countries through various affiliations, but we find that this ‘home-grown’ program to China is the most cost effective.”