For these students, Miami is a study abroad location

Students from China learn the art of pottery making.

The Global Partner Summer School program provides academic and cultural experiences to students from all over the world. College students from China are visiting Miami now in a four-week program.

By Bradley Rhodes, Global Initiatives

This year, 135 Chinese college students opened Miami University’s doors to a new culture.

Many entered the United States for the first time. They carried images in their heads of what America is like, then found the reality a bit different.

The students are enrolled in Miami’s Global Partner Summer School program, developed by Global Initiatives. Now in its 12th year, the program provides a customized summer-study experience to students from all over the world. They experience what it’s like in America, both culturally and academically.

“I want to introduce a culture as it is — not as you think it is,” said David Kietges, the manager of the program. “Experience it for yourself.”

While at Miami, the students take five different courses over four weeks. The courses focus on topics of intercultural communication, language, writing and international studies.

Robin Luo, the assistant dean of intercultural studies at Sun Yat-sen University where the students are from, not only finds Miami’s top-notch academics important to his students but also Miami’s exceptional location. Its rural location makes this program perfect for his students who live in densely-populated, urban areas.

“[The Global Partner Summer School] gives them an experience at a university that they couldn’t get in China,” Luo said. “And the students are amazed by it.”

Students from China learn in an American college setting.

College students from Sun Yat-sen University in China experience education in the United States.

Students get a feel for Oxford

Students take a dozen trips across Butler County to get a feel for American life.

“I love the opportunity to introduce real, American culture to these students,” Keitges said. “Most of what the students see is pop culture. But this program provides them the opportunity to go to an event like the Butler County Fair.”

Irene Ye, a student in the program, is a freshman English major, and this trip was her first time outside of China.

One of the cultural highlights from the Butler Country Fair for her was the animal competition. She was puzzled by the concept of teenagers raising cows and other animals for prizes.

“What is this competition for? The animals all look the same to me,” she said.

But it was not only the unfamiliar animal competition that struck her, it was also the independence of the kids who raised the animals. To Ye, the independence of the teenage participants taught her something about American teenage life.

The students also visited Hueston Woods, ate Mexican food and went to Oxford Lanes, a local bowling alley, where they received lessons before bowling for a couple hours.

In addition to that, several students met the city manager of Oxford. Doug Elliot discussed the concepts and the purpose of local government to illustrate how cities and counties in the United States function.

Students broaden their views of the world

Although four weeks is not enough time to learn all there is to know about studying and living in the United States, it is enough time for the students to broaden their views of the world.

Luo expects this program will help craft and develop the students’ global vision.

It appears to be working. For these students from China, dispelling the pop culture myths of America they came with gives them a new world perspective.