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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “China, U.S. to benefit from UA study-abroad program”

    A fledgling UA study-abroad program could have major educational and economic impact on both the U.S. and China.

    The first-year project, “”Yangtze International Study Program,”” is an embedded venture through Nanjing University of Technology in China’s Jiangsu province, said Kirk Simmons, UA director of international affairs.

    “”If all goes well, UA is in a position to leapfrog other universities in terms of being a gateway to China,”” said Henry Tsang, executive director for the program. “”There is a huge discussion with the Jiangsu government to have UA involved there in a much bigger way.””

    Nanjing officials decided the best way to improve their own university system would be to develop a collaborative relationship where Chinese and American students could study together, Tsang said.

    American professors, a majority with experience at the UA, will teach classes in several disciplines, including business, anthropology, political science and Chinese history and language, Tsang said.

    Twenty-one UA students landed in Shanghai early last week, immersing themselves in Chinese culture before heading to their new home on the 460-acre campus among 30,000 students.

    “”We’re quite excited about this opportunity for our students,”” said Simmons. “”I’m feeling quite confident that the study-abroad program will be quite successful.””

    Upon their arrival, students visited the U.S. Consulate, where an entire division is focused on enticing American companies into China.

    “”I think there’s going to be more demand for people who’ve been to China and learned the language,”” said Maria Jhai, an anthropology senior. “”It would be great on anyone’s resume.””

    The 32-year-old Jhai brought along her husband, daughter and niece for the trip, and while their stay will forestall her graduation, experiencing another culture is worth it, said Jhai.

    “”You can always find ways to make it work by going outside the brochure,”” Jhai said.

    The Yangtze program will have a focus on blending students of both nationalities both academically and socially, unlike other “”island”” programs where foreign students are isolated, Tsang said.

    “”(Chinese students) are very interested in meeting American students, talking about the same things and making friends,”” said Tsang. “”Some of that happens inside classrooms, but most of it is outside and spontaneous.””

    Study abroad officials emphasized the importance of the Yangtze International Study Program in keeping Tucson aligned with China’s juggernaut economy.

    In June 2006 alone, nearly $30 billion worth of goods and services exchanged hands between the two countries, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Motorola has the largest presence of U.S companies in China, tapping into a market for nearly 400 million cell phones, while General Motors is the third-largest American vendor in the nation, said Tsang.

    “”If you can turn UA into this kind of portal for companies in Nanjing, we’re going to draw a lot of interest from these businesses,”” said Tsang.

    Despite the “”shocking mix”” of prosperity and poverty, economics junior Nick Borst says he’s impressed with the changes that are sweeping through nearby Shanghai.

    “”It seems like the city is moving in the right direction,”” said Borst. “”Everyone I run into is friendly and says ‘hello.'””

    If the Yangtze program is successful, it could be a precursor to a larger agreement between the UA and Jiangsu Department of Education, Simmons said.

    That second project with the Jiangsu officials, who regulate 110 universities in the province, would involve developing degree programs with the UA, which are under consideration with UA deans, said Simmons.

    “”The potential could be tremendous,”” said Simmons. “”We’ve had an historic tie to the province.””

    Student interest in the Yangtze International Study Abroad Program has doubled other inaugural study-abroad programs, said Eric Deschamps, UA study abroad and student exchange coordinator.

    “”We’d like to send as many people as possible,”” said Deschamps. “”The closer the ties between China and UA, the better off UA will be.””

    Programs run throughout the year, requiring a 2.5 grade point average to participate – and because of the American instruction, there’s no prerequisite for speaking Chinese, Deschamps said.

    Favorable exchange rates make the costs of a semester in China competitive with studying in Tucson, between $7,000 and $8,000 after figuring in airfare and spending cash, Deschamps said.

    Will Woods, a political science senior, is using the program to learn his sixth language and to take advantage of the exchange rates.

    “”The first thing I got was a massage,”” said Woods. “”I’m going to enjoy it while I can, I’m not going to pay those prices back home.””

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