It’s one thing to learn about student life and campus culture at an American university through the various forms of media.
It’s quite another to experience a sliver of what that life is like up close.
Recent visitors to Cal Poly Pomona from China say they enhanced their leadership skills and gained insight into how Cal Poly Pomona’s student affairs system works, and as a result, feel more connected to the campus.
The College of Extended University (CEU) recently hosted higher-education officials and students from China in separate programs, helping to shine a global spotlight on what the campus offers.
Eva Anneli Adams, executive director of global initiatives, says the university long has hosted delegations, but the number increased in 2008 when the Chinese government certified Cal Poly Pomona as a place for professional development for its students and officials.
“We host about 20 delegations a year,” she says. “When we bring them here, we want to do it in a strategic way that is helping to support one of the university’s key learning outcomes, which is global citizenship. We strive to partner with academic colleges.”
The United States’ recent revision to its policy on issuing visas is making that partnership easier by not requiring students, business travelers and visitors to apply for each planned trip, Adams says.
“Instead, provided that they meet the criteria for a given visa category, they may be issued a multiple entry visa,” she says. “For Cal Poly Pomona students from China, this means less money spent on visa applications and traveling to the U.S. Embassy for the interview. Hence, both convenience and cost are the benefits to students.”
The College of Extended University hosted two delegations of university officials from China in early February. During three days of workshops, Cal Poly Pomona administrators and students gave presentations on a variety of topics including student life, leadership structure and student discipline to the 24 Chinese university vice presidents. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities picked Cal Poly Pomona to host one of the delegations. A second delegation from Fudan University in Shanghai also visited campus.
The visiting delegations followed a two-week program for university students from China.
The new International Student Leadership Program started in January. Lisa “Yaping” Xue, the CEU’s new director of global education programs, launched the program, which involved hosting 10 Beijing Normal University students.
Beijing Normal, which specializes in teacher training, educational science and psychology, is one of the oldest universities in China. In the specialized program, students learned about leadership, communication skills and the interconnectedness of a global world.
“These kinds of programs promote the university’s prestige and programs in the global community,” Xue says.
Xue, who was hired in December, sees hosting visitors like those in the leadership program as a way to connect cultures on a deeper level.
“If you build a bridge and build a friendship, then you build trust,” she says. “If you don’t understand, then you don’t trust. The more we promote this kind of building a bridge, the more we continue towards world peace.”
Felicity Wang, a 23-year-old master’s degree student at Beijing Normal, says she was fascinated by America and wanted to come for the leadership program to improve her language skills. Wang is pursuing a foreign linguistics graduate degree.
“If you just are in one culture, it’s too narrow for young people,” Wang says of the importance of cross-cultural exchanges. “This world requires a global vision because this is a multicultural world.”
Xu Wennan, student body president at Beijing Normal, spoke at the graduation ceremony for the international program. The 21-year-old junior English major says the program helped her discover what type of leader she is by using the color-coded method organizers designed. Wennan said she got the color gold, meaning she is a planner.
“In this class, we dug into ourselves and we learned to cooperate,” she says. “We learn many things about the American lifestyle through music or movies, but it is really different being here.”