NENU students visit SIU Carbondale

Students from Northeast Normal University in China are visiting Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the surrounding region for two weeks. Pictured with the students are: Andrew D. Carver, executive director of International Affairs for SIU; Yi Lee, international partnerships coordinator for SIU’s Center for International Education;  Marc Chang, a 2009 engineering alumnus and owner of Olive Branch International Education Services; Jim Jacobs, 2019 Carbondale Chamber of Commerce chair, and Michael Lewallen, 2019 Carbondale Chamber Saluki Pride Committee chair. (Photo provided)

July 15, 2019

Chinese students explore the SIU experience

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A group from Northeast Normal University in China arrived Saturday for a two-week Saluki Summer Experience at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Long a leader in international education, SIU partners with numerous institutions of higher learning around the globe for collaborations and educational ventures, including student and faculty study abroad experiences and other activities.

This visit allows Chinese students to explore the university and community and learn more about a unique dual-degree option.

Cross-cultural experience planned

While in Carbondale, the 30 university students and three faculty members from China are taking part in a wide range of activities designed to help them get a taste of the SIU experience and the regional community while also showing them educational options in each of the four majors offered by the College of Business.

While residing in Carbondale, they will tour SIU and enjoy local cuisine and fun activities such as a water balloon fight, a Sunset Concert and boating on Campus Lake. They will hear guest speakers and visit the Student Recreational Center, a splash park, a horse farm, a Southern Illinois Miners baseball game and other hot spots as well. They’ll also take in the farmer’s market, go shopping and participate in other American activities.

They’ll end their trip with a stop in Chicago.

Academic options highlighted

SIU and NENU have collaborated to offer an accounting dual degree program, which allows students to complete their first two years at NENU and then transfer to SIU for their final two years. When they complete the program from SIU’s School of Accountancy and NENU’s School of Business, the students will receive a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from both universities.

The majority of the students who are visiting SIU this summer are currently enrolled in the NENU program. Carver said having the opportunity to see for themselves what SIU and the area are really like greatly encourages them to go on to enroll at the university and complete a dual degree.

Visitors are becoming students

Last summer 63 NENU students, along with four faculty, visited SIU. Nineteen of those former visitors are expected to begin classes at Carbondale this fall, according to Yi Lee, international partnerships coordinator for SIU’s Center for International Education.

That will bring the total enrollment of NENU students at SIU to more than 90.

The first group of NENU students to enroll at SIU in conjunction with the dual-degree program graduated in 2018. Some of the NENU/SIU graduates have gone on to continue their educational pursuits by enrolling in graduate degree programs at SIU.

“Despite the current political tensions between the United States and China and the resulting nationwide decrease in Chinese student enrollment in America, the U.S. higher education system is still the envy of the world and holds a great deal of value in the eyes of students and parents from China,” Lee said. “SIU, Carbondale and the region benefit economically and in other ways due to increased student enrollment and the students themselves certainly benefit by receiving an excellent education at SIU.”

Many working together to offer this program

The Saluki Summer Experience program and its activities are facilitated by SIU and its Center for International Education, the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, and Olive Branch International Education Services. March Chang, a 2009 engineering alumnus of SIU, is the owner of Olive Branch International Education Services.

“I can’t say enough how grateful we are to have the support of the Chamber and local businesses for our initiatives to recruit international students to our campus and the Carbondale community,” Carver said. “I feel strongly that if prospective international students can experience all that our university and Southern Illinois have to offer, they are much more likely to choose SIU for their academic home.”

More international initiatives planned

While this is the second year the NENU students have visited SIU for the Saluki Summer Experience, that’s just the beginning, Carver said.

“This program provides a campus experience for prospective students from China, but the Center for International Education is working with academic units throughout campus to expand our scope for future years to include groups from other regions that traditionally send many students to SIU, including South Asia and Latin America,” Carver said.

Currently, 1,133 international students and scholars from more than 100 countries have chosen SIU for their educational home away from home.

To learn more about SIU’s Center for International Education and its numerous initiatives, visit the website at, call 618/453-5774 or email