Opportunities for Zhejiang Province, China and Maui County, Hawaii
Recently, University of Hawaii Maui College colleagues came to visit Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University here in Lin’an, China.
The ZAFU and UHMC discussions explored several ideas of how our schools could become more closely linked.
We discussed both predictable but also innovative possibilities. For instance, an important opportunity for U.S. students wanting to learn Chinese is to come here to ZAFU; it is a good and an affordable choice. Students receive six hours of classroom instruction four days a week in small classes with students from around the world. Those coming to study Mandarin are on the ZAFU campus with 22,000 Chinese speaking students. So there is plenty of opportunity to practice this complex and increasingly useful language and become familiar with the Chinese culture. Tuition is about $2,500 a year. See http://school.cucas.edu.cn/HomePage/159/ for more information.
Other possible connections include:
Sustainability projects – Maui and Zhejiang have the bamboo. The Bamboo Foundation http://www.bamboocentral.org/ and the Green School http://www.greenschool.org/ are good models of what has already been done to use bamboo in building and more. On Maui, David Sands has already gotten approval and built five model bamboo houses. He is involved with the International Bamboo Foundation: P.O. 790716 Paia, HI phone: 808-572-8129. See the website at http://www.bamboocentral.org/hawaii.html. It seems like our colleges could and should get involved in this essential path for sustainable for the future.
Tea Culture Promotion – ZAFU is the only university in China that has a tea culture major. Tea is an essential element of Chinese culture (as well as for the Japanese). Both have made tea an art. Students training in tea culture here at ZAFU give performances in Lin’an, Hangzhou and beyond.
These rich cultural experiences could, for instance, be brought to Maui for presentations at high-end hotels such as The Makena Resort: http://www.makenaresortmaui.com/ . Lois Greenwood, wouldn’t an authentic tea ceremony be a wonderful addition for the guests at The Makena Resort? The ZAFU tea culture majors could also teach VITEC classes to the residents of Maui http://www.ocet.org/. Since Maui has a large Asian population, many residents are likely to be interested in learning about their culture. Japanese visitors may be curious about how the Chinese tea presentation differs from their own. Others are likely just to be interested. A beginning with a focus on Chinese tea culture could also lead to calligraphy and other Chinese arts. The Maui Arts and Culture Center could showcase the tea culture performances <http://www.mauiarts.org/>.
Transition of Chinese students to top U.S. universities: Many Chinese students want to study abroad. One question Barry and I get here in China is, “What is the most famous university in the U.S.?” For the Chinese, going to a prestigious school is extremely important. Before we try to answer a student, we want to know what he or she will be studying since the quality of programs vary within each school and we consider their English fluency. Some of the Chinese students have what we see as an unrealistic view of their their own capabilities. In general, although they do have discipline, and they do know how to work hard, U.S. universities, especially the top ones, are very competitive. A student must be excellent to survive. According to a 2005 report issued by The Education Trust, approximately 35 percent of students who enter US colleges will drop out during the first year — and those are often native English speakers. ( http://www.brighthub.com/education/college/articles/82378.aspx#ixzz1RDLlKMV3 A
The Chinese students going to the University of Indiana, for instance, will pay about $30,000 just for tuition. Add books, food, and housing costs, that fee rises to $43,351. They also need the airfare to get to the school. <http://admit.indiana.edu/cost/international/index.shtml> However, the average annual salary of urban employees in China’s non-private sector rose to 37,147 yuan (or about $5,600) in 2010 according to a May 5, 2011 People’s Daily report.
Because her spoken English was very limited, we struggled to understand one student who told us money for school was not an issue for her family. Her parents, however, may disagree when she likely flunks out of her first year when she is competing with native English speakers. So Barry and I see a real need to have transition programs for many of the Chinese students. Just as U.S. students often start at community colleges for their core courses and then transfer to universities to complete BA or graduate studies, many Chinese students, we think could (and should) do the same. At UHMC, we have the excellent Maui Language Institute <http://www.mauilanguageinstitute.com/index.php> for those students who do not yet qualify for U.S. universities. For those who do, they may be wise to start at a school such as UHMC <http://maui.hawaii.edu/> to acclimate to a US school, one with small classes and with experienced teachers instead of the huge freshman classes of major universities, ones often taught by T.A.s. Once the students have built their skills and gained transferable credits, they can move on to top universities that specialize in their fields of study–and they are likely to do very well. ZAFU and UHMC could set up transition programs for Chinese students wanting to do well in American universities.
Our schools could trade medical knowledge and expertise. In the U.S., there is a growing recognition and interest in Oriental medicine. A friend on Oahu has just enrolled in a four-year program there to become a doctor of Oriental medicine. Perhaps our UHMC could make good use of the training ZAFU graduates receive to promote special semester or summer Oriental medicine classes on Maui. In exchange, our UHMC Dental Hygenist program faculty and students could send representatives here to ZAFU. There is a huge opportunity to share what we know in the U.S. about dental hygiene. Our UHMC Dental Program leaders, Joyce Yamada and Rosie Vierra could offer their knowledge and expertise to develop a program at ZAFU. See our UHMC site <http://maui.hawaii.edu/?s=dental>. ZAFU could offer a dental hygienist program here that could be a model for China. The possibilities are vast.
Of course, an obvious connection is teacher and student exchanges. Right now, ZAFU is actively recruiting faculty who speak Mandarin and English to teach in almost all programs at this campus in China. If you or someone you know was born in China but emigrated to another country, ZAFU wants their skills at this university. Those interested should contact Mr. Bao Haiyong (Bob) <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
As for the ZAFU Foreign Languages Department, it often searches for qualified native English speakers. UHMC could be an excellent source. Besides our regular tenured faculty, UHMC has a pool of very well-educated and experienced instructors. Lecturers in the UHMC English Department, for instance, have at least a Masters Degree, are professional, and have experience teaching on the college level. Most love teaching; they would be very capable in teaching English classes here at ZAFU; for themselves, they would gain valuable new classroom and Chinese cultural experience. Barry and I have had an incredible year here and recommend the experience. Those interested can apply to Ms. Vickie Ge, ZAFU Administrator & Coordinator of Foreign Teachers/Experts at her e-mail address–<Vickiedangdang@gmail.com>.
We hope to expand and grow in connections between our two schools. We look forward to bright futures for our students and our communities. Our ideas can make that happen.
On the morning our UHMC group headed into Hangzhou and then back to Shanghai, we got to meet the ZAFU official, Dean Yu, who with our UHMC Liping and Vice-Chancellor Suzette started the sister school relationship between our two institutions several years. Liping kept referring to him as Dean Fish Head, which I though was rather surprising (and a bit rude) especially since Liping is always very professional. But no, Liping uses “Fish Head” as an affectionate title. “Yu” means fish in Mandarin, and as dean, he is the head of his department, thus “Fish head.”
May our relationships continue to grow and our ideas flourish.
Zài Jiàn and Aloha, Renée