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Coca-Cola Foundation Scholars from China welcomed at Georgia Southern

As the fall 2007 semester began, Georgia Southern University welcomed five exchange students and two exchange faculty members from Central China Normal University (also known as Huazhong University) in Wuhan, China. Their visit is supported by the Coca-Cola Foundation, which recently presented a $200,000 grant to implement an educational exchange between Central China Normal and Georgia Southern.

The students, all young women, are adapting well to higher education in the United States, partly because they both understand and speak English. They will be on the Statesboro campus for two semesters, with side trips to American cities during their school breaks.

‘We came here to get more international experience,” said Yang Liujing, an English major who has adopted the American name of Vivian. ‘Georgia Southern is a beautiful place. We find the people here nice and helpful.” Liujing’s home is in central China’s Hubei province, not far from the Three Gorges Dam, a Chinese hydroelectric dam spanning the Yangtze River.

‘While these students from China are here, they will have an opportunity to get involved on the Georgia Southern campus through student activities, volunteer services, intramurals, the International Club, and through our weekly International Conversation Hour,” said Jeffrey Palis, Georgia Southern’s coordinator of student exchange programs. ‘There is more to coming on an exchange than just classes. There’s also an exchange of friendships and ideas.”

The five have chosen to live together for easier cooking and transportation purposes, but they are exploring a variety of academic coursework. In addition to English language classes, they are taking American literature, social psychology, public speaking, composition, anthropology, and social dance for their physical education credit.

‘I am expecting a totally new literature,” said Li Gaoqing, who is majoring in Chinese language and literature. Gaoqing, who has adopted the American name of Sophia, is from Shandong province, a coastal province in Eastern China.

‘We live together, but we are meeting American students in class,” said Yi Huang, a psychology major from Fujian province, in southeast China. ‘The other students introduce themselves to us, and in one class, the teacher asked us to introduce ourselves to each other.” When their new American friends discovered that the group prepares Chinese food, some have even managed to get a supper invitation.

‘The schedule of classes is different here,” said Vivian, and her fellow students agreed. ‘In China we take 36 credits in a semester, and here we take 12. The scoring system is different. In China, the final exam is the most important part of a class, but here, all parts of class are important. There are papers and quizzes all semester long. In China, classes are easier in the beginning, harder at the end.”

Palis pointed out that the exchange goes two ways, and right now five Georgia Southern students are studying at Central China Normal.

‘To prepare students who are interested in this exchange, Georgia Southern is offering Chinese language classes, taught by, Xiaojie Li, one of the exchange faculty members,” said Palis. ‘The introductory Chinese class is full and has a waiting list. The other exchange faculty member, Hong Yang, is conducting research under the guidance of Martha Pennington, chair of Georgia Southern’s Writing and Linguistics program.

Palis also noted that the Chinese students and faculty visiting here will take part in this year’s Study Abroad Fair on Tuesday, Sept. 25 in the Russell Union Building.

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