Twenty-five students together with their teacher from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China spent three weeks of August at the U exploring the American West via the newly-launched Humanities Summer Program.
The students maintained a busy schedule during their stay, both taking courses in Writing & Rhetoric, American History, Sociology, and Religions in the U.S and weaving into them excursions to Bryce Canyon National Park, Promontory Point, the U’s Taft-Nicholson Center, and Yellowstone National Park.
Launched by Dr. LuMing Mao, Chair of the Department Writing & Rhetoric Studies, the program aims not only to provide opportunities for students to broaden their intercultural knowledge and enrich their global perspectives but also to deepen cooperation between our two institutions.
As one of the participating students at the program’s closing ceremony remarked, this experience enabled her to see and appreciate America—her history, her people, her natural beauty—in ways that were very different from what had been portrayed in the media in both countries. Her view was shared by other students, who found the classes “very inspiring” and said that they now “know more about America.” Observed another, “I really appreciated the different teaching styles here. We are so used to writing papers of 5,000 words that I didn’t know what to do when our history teacher told us to write a 350-word paper.”
But the benefits extend far beyond the student participants. The experience was “the most fun class I’ve ever taught,” noted sociology professor Thomas Quinn. And Kelli Borrowman, a program assistant in the Department of Writing & Rhetoric Studies, told the students how much she appreciated knowing them and how much she enjoyed some of the local excursions she was part of.
Plans are underway to expand the program in coming years to additional institutions in China, Chiang Mai University in Thailand, and other countries as partnerships continue to develop.