China-bound in July -- This group of top students from Southern Illinois University Carbondale will travel to China this summer to continue building relationships with students and higher education institutions in that country. The students leave in mid-July and will visit University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. The group will stay in China at least a week, taking in many cultural offerings, as well.
Pictured, left to right are: Max Yen, director of the Materials Technology Center and a trip organizer; Laurie Bell, assistant director of the University Honors Program’s Office of Major Scholarship Advisement; and John Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate school; students Jessica Stout and Jordan Kabat, former Chancellor Samuel Goldman, and students Nick Sager, Mark Stevens, Lee Stewart, Kelsey Jarrett, Taylor Chance, Alexis Bergman, Loran Luehr. Not pictured, student Tyler Chance. (Photo by Steve Buhman) Download Photo Here
June 02, 2010
SIUC, Beijing university plan student exchange
CARBONDALE, Ill -- A group of top students from Southern Illinois University Carbondale will travel to China this summer to continue building relationships with students and higher education institutions in that country.
The 11 students -- 10 undergraduates and one graduate student -- leave in mid-July for China, where they will visit University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, meeting with students, faculty, administrators and others. The group will stay in China at least a week, University officials said, where they also will take in many cultural offerings, as well.
The trip is the latest effort aimed at building relationships between SIUC and several Chinese institutes of higher education. John A. Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate school at SIUC, said the trip would strengthen ties that ultimately will lead to richer experiences for students on both sides of the world.
“This is intended to be an exchange in both directions. That’s the way you develop a good collaborative relationship in the long run,” Koropchak said. “On top of that, these students will get the experience of a lifetime.”
The undergraduate students making the trip are a group selected as freshmen for enrichment opportunities on the basis of their drive, scholarship and talent. Laurie Bell, assistant director of the University Honors Program’s Office of Major Scholarship Advisement, said the group will represent SIUC well.
“These are the next of what I would consider to be rock stars in representing the University,” Bell said. “They are wonderful ambassadors for SIUC because they are getting a truly enhanced undergraduate career. We constantly put them out there in the arena to prepare them for moments like this.”
Shing-Chung “Max” Yen, director of the Materials Technology Center at SIUC, has been instrumental in arranging the cooperation between SIUC and its Chinese counterparts. Yen said UIBE is funding the trip, which is another step in the process that will continue to bring more students to SIUC.
“In doing this, we want to send the best of our best students over, where they will be a good example for the rest of the students there and on campus here,” Yen said. “This shows if you want to work hard and do a good job, the University will provide other opportunities, and this is one of the highlights.
“UIBE sees us as a great university and sees us as a long-term partner,” Yen said. “So this is the kind of gesture that will continue that process.”
Koropchak pointed to a voluminous Chinese higher education report that identified SIUC as one of the top universities in the world. Such a ranking comes from Chinese officials becoming more familiar with SIUC and all it can do, he said.
“We have students here who can compete with the best anywhere,” Koropchak said. “And we need to provide them with opportunities like this one to reach that potential.”
Along with meeting students and other officials, the SIUC group will learn about China’s socioeconomic system, its culture and communication skills. They likely will visit major cultural sites, such as the nearby Great Wall and recently built facilities for the Olympic games.
“They can see things from a few thousand years old to the most contemporary,” Yen said.
The students making the trip are:
• Alexis Bergman, a freshman studying zoology from Quincy
•Jessica Stout, a junior in pre-medicine from Springfield
•Jordan Kabat, a senior studying civil engineering from Scheller
• Kelsey Jarrett, a junior studying microbiology from Coulterville
•Lee Stewart, a junior studying political science from Dowell
•Loran Luehr, a sophomore studying dietetics from Steeleville
•Mark Stevens, a sophomore studying foreign language and international trade and political science from Mattoon
• Nick Sager, a freshman studying engineering from Mt. Vernon
• Taylor Chance, a freshman studying mechanical engineering and mathematics from West Frankfort
•Tyler Chance, a freshman studying political science from West Frankfort
• Andrew Podoll, a graduate student in the College of Science from Makanda
Following their stay, the students will bring a group of Chinese students back with them for a leadership workshop at SIUC. The group will stay about two weeks, from late July into August, experiencing culture, making friends and learning more about SIUC and American higher education.
SIUC’s relationship with China and Taiwan already is paying dividends in terms of enrollment. About 25 students from those countries enrolled at SIUC last year, Yen said, and officials expect more than 100 to do so next school year. This September, journalism Professor Katherine T. Frith is scheduled to teach part of a semester at UIBE, continuing the faculty exchanges that are part of the ongoing relationship, Yen said.
Moving forward, Koropchak said he hopes the relationship leads to SIUC opening more recruiting and outreach centers in China and Taiwan to go along with the two already in existence.
“The centers are the focal point for people exchange,” Koropchak said. “China is such a huge country. There is so much potential there.”
SIUC’s long relationship with the Chinese universities also means the degrees it issues fall under the local Chinese accreditation standards, adding value for Chinese students who may not receive the same arrangement from other U.S. universities with more independent presences there, Yen said.
Koropchak said the global experience garnered by SIUC students in this effort could potentially benefit the entire student body.
“These are the kinds of collaborations and opportunities we can provide to our students,” he said. “We are living in a global environment, and for our students to be successful they increasingly need to be experienced in dealing with other cultures. If we’re bringing the best from both countries to study together, tremendous things can happen, with positive ramifications for all our students.”