Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Helena Rodriguez
PORTALES — American fast food is nothing new to Hua Wen, one of a dozen Chinese students who recently arrived at Eastern as a part of a new 1-2-1 program with World American Cultural Exchange (WACE). After all, China does have McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants.
In fact, Wen says that Chinese probably know more about American culture than Americans know about Chinese culture, saying China is a very global society. And Wen knows enough about American culture to lay off the French fries. "American food has a lot of fat. In China, we eat lots of fruits and vegetables, so I will have to do lots of workouts here," Wen said.
Eastern officially welcomed 12 students from China during a press conference last Monday which was attended by three visiting professors from China's Sichuan University: professors Chen Bing, the director of international exchanges; Professor Lin Nian, a computer sciences teacher; and Professor Zhao Li, who teaches health sciences in China. According to Fred Chilson, International Student Recruiter at Eastern, two other students from China may also be on their way to Eastern this semester.
With an official proclamation signed by ENMU president Steven Gamble and a symbolic handshake between Bing and Gary Musgrave, Eastern's vice president for Student Affairs, the project that was six years in the making finally became a reality. The 1-2-1 program was the brainchild of a former ENMU student, Mary Stewart, and Mr. Wukang Li, both of WACE.
"We traveled to China in the early stages, but the unfortunate events of 9-11 put a stop. We are happy now that the doors are opening," said Patrice Caldwell, executive director of Planning and Analysis at Eastern.
Through the 1-2-1 program, students from China can get dual degrees for Sichuan University and Eastern. They attend their first year of college in China and will then spend two years studying at Eastern before returning to China their final year to graduate. Their degrees will be from both Sichuan and Eastern. Musgrave said that, in the future, Eastern would also like to send students to China and Bing said his country would extend the same kind of welcome to American students in China.
Musgrave said, "We believe our students will gain from this cultural exchange and we would like to commit to Sichuan University that we will use our facilities and faculty and staff to do everything to help these students succeed at ENMU." Bing responded, "We believe this degree program will be successful...We hope this is just a starting point."
Business major Nan Lan views his two-year stay in America as a beneficial experience for both him and those he comes in contact with. "I want to learn more about how American business operates and American culture, but I also want to get an idea about how American people think, what I can get from them as well as what I can offer them." During his spare time, Lan is taking karate classes at the Portales Recreation Center. Back home in China, he said his father is the master of a small city and his mother is a former teacher.
Chinese students, such as Lan, Wen and Liguang "Claire" Zheng, have had years of studying English before coming to Portales, but they are still trying to gain even better English proficiency. They are taking English as a Second Language (ESL) with Geni Flores, an instructor of bilingual education. Although these students know the English basics, Flores spent a recent class teaching them the double meaning of some words and phrases, which may throw them off, such as "Heads up!" and "Going out with a bang!"
The Chinese students also have a language lab time twice a week with Vitelio Contreras, an associate professor of Spanish who is helping with the ESL class. Contreras is using an interactive Ellis program that allows students to work at their own paces. Students hear and see the proper way words are pronounced in English and then record themselves to compare their own voices.
For Lan, it's not the business program that poses the most challenge, but rather language, understanding his professors in class. Wen agrees that language is one of the biggest challenges here, but when asked why there are nine females and only three male students from China, she said, "I think biologically, females have good abilities to learn other languages."
Wen and Zheng are both mass communication majors. For Zheng, this semester is a major switch for her, not only to a new country, but also to a new major. She has a bachelor's degree in English but decided to try mass communications in America. She is very much open to learning about American media and culture, and, in fact, she has adopted an American name for herself. "People can call me 'Claire' because it is easier to say than my Chinese name and it also means the same thing as my Chinese name, that I was born in the morning."
Claire is working at KENW-TV where she is learning about the different aspects of television production. She said she will use this semester to decide which aspect of communication she wants to go into, perhaps in management, public relations or broadcast. During her spare time, she said she enjoys surfing the Internet, chatting online with friends, reading books and singing songs. Incidentally, her roommate at Bernalillo Hall is a music major and has been introducing her to different types of American music. The majority of the 1-2-1 students are living in the dormitories on campus by choice and have specifically requested American roommates.
Students in the 1-2-1 program are enrolled in a variety of programs at Eastern, from economics and finance to vocal performance and music composition. The other Chinese students from Sichuan University and their majors are: Lixiang Huang, accounting; Lin Hu, human resource management; Muge Tian, economics and finance; Qi Huang, economics; Qian Huang, mass media; Ying Guo, vocal performance; Quanying Pan, vocal performance; Wenjun Wang, music composition; and Cheng Ye, vocal performance.
Claire said she already misses her mother's cooking, but at least her parents are not as far away as the other Chinese students. She said her father is working at the University of Missouri.
Although language has been a bit frustrating for Claire as well, she said she is determined to improve her English writing level. And just like the other 11 visiting students from China, she wants to also expand her knowledge of American culture. "My wishes are to do well in the university, make many friends, let them know about the Chinese culture about learn from the students here."