By Per Anderson of Concordia College, contributing writer, MPCC NEWS

Bruce Johnson, a professor of economics and management at Gustavus Adolphus College, was part of a ten-person delegation that recently visited United International College (UIC) in Zhuhai, China. He admits that he returned home with a mixture of feelings. “I was excited by the educational and exchange opportunities, puzzled by the mixture of economic activities and flattered by the genuine welcome we received from UIC students and staff.” This was Johnson’s first trip to Asia and he would “return in a minute” — though next time he would definitely bypass the chicken feet he ate at one luncheon.

By Per Anderson of Concordia College, contributing writer, MPCC NEWS

Bruce Johnson, a professor of economics and management at Gustavus Adolphus College, was part of a ten-person delegation that recently visited United International College (UIC) in Zhuhai, China. He admits that he returned home with a mixture of feelings. “I was excited by the educational and exchange opportunities, puzzled by the mixture of economic activities and flattered by the genuine welcome we received from UIC students and staff.” This was Johnson’s first trip to Asia and he would “return in a minute” — though next time he would definitely bypass the chicken feet he ate at one luncheon.
UIC is an international, English-speaking college of 4,000 students, which offers 13 academic programs within a liberal arts curriculum. It seeks to be a model for Chinese higher education that will develop leaders with international perspectives. Zhuhai has a long tradition as a pioneer in higher education and was home to the first Chinese graduate from a U.S. institution in 1854.
2008-09 marks the fourth academic year for UIC and the third year of working with member schools of the Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC) to advance a mutual interest in cross-cultural conversation about liberal arts learning. Delegation members discussed expansion opportunities with UIC faculty and staff and two presidents delivered addresses to members of the UIC campus — continuing a tradition of exploring important dimensions of a liberal arts education. In her address, Pam Jolicoeur, president of Concordia College, commended Professor Edmund Kwok, executive vice president at UIC, for recognizing that in this highly competitive era, "...the fundamental aims of a liberal arts education are precisely what is called for.”
The partnership is providing a variety of exchange opportunities for UIC and the six participating MPCC schools. Eric Dugdale, an associate professor of Classics from Gustavus Adolphus College, hosted some faculty workshops at UIC last spring. “I was impressed by the level of dedication and the pedagogical ingenuity that the faculty showed in trying to help their students deal with the challenge of studying in a foreign language,” he said. But it was the relationships Dugdale formed with people at UIC that had the most impact. “It was over plates of steaming Cantonese food that we got to know more about the college and about Chinese culture and to hear stories about the rapidly changing environment,” he said.
This year 12 UIC students are studying at MPCC schools — including two that Dugdale got to know last May — and four MPCC students are studying at UIC. Recent MPCC graduates are serving as teaching assistants or teaching staff and several MPCC faculty are teaching and doing institutional development projects at UIC as well. Augsburg College health and physical education associate professor Joyce Pfaff, for example, is teaching there this semester. As she writes in her blog, “for the most part I find my students at UIC very similar to my students at Augsburg...the students in my two fitness classes are finally beginning to open up a bit and all of us are enjoying the classes more.” Pfaff notes that although most of the students at UIC have had training in various sport activities, "they have little knowledge on what it means to be a physically fit person."
Upcoming faculty exchanges include a Hamline University professor who will be in residence in the spring to help establish a cultural village residence program for UIC students. Other MPCC faculty have expressed interest in coming to UIC to teach as part of their sabbatical plans, according to Patrick Quade, Chief of International Development at UIC and MPCC liaison [he has worked at both St. Olaf College and Gustavus]. Some of Quade’s UIC colleagues will join the groups of UIC students coming to Minnesota this summer. “These colleagues will be drawn from academic and administrative departments, giving them an opportunity to experience firsthand the U.S. system of education and, of course, the quality of MPCC schools,” Quade said.
Associate Professor Heidi Manning and Professor Kwok
While at UIC in November, the MPCC delegation spent some of its time planning future exchanges. Heidi Manning, an associate professor of physics and director of the honors program at Concordia College, is planning to implement an honors semester at UIC. “Our honors students always travel abroad for a semester (usually to Crete), but going to Europe is too similar to our culture,” she said. “China is completely different than the U.S. and what happens there really influences us.” Manning was impressed with how willing and interested UIC was to work with MPCC colleagues. “Their attitude was, ‘what can we do to make this happen?’” (See related story in the Concordian www.theconcordian.org)
Concordia nursing and religion students will visit UIC next May as part of a study seminar in spirituality and health. And as student interest in exchange opportunities grows, most of the participating MPCC schools will continue to offer summer programs. 
“These exchanges are only the beginning what promises be a remarkable relationship of reciprocal communication and mutual benefit,” according to Per Anderson from Concordia, who is the current convener of the MPCC efforts. Find out more about UIC (www.uic.edu.hk) and contact David B. Laird, Jr., at MPCC (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or e-mail Per Anderson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to pursue involvement in the consortium.
This article is from the December 2008 issue of NEWS.  http://www.mnprivatecolleges.org/publications/newsletter/index.php

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