Course in China to unite East and West

Matthew Wong (far right), who graduated last year, makes sandwiches with students at Fuzhou No. 1 Middle School during last year’s tutoring trip to China. The trip is now offered as a class.By Steph Mostaccio

First there were study abroad programs. Then there were tutoring opportunities in Jamaica and Santo Domingo. Now there is the chance to work in China.

For the first time, Rider is offering a three-credit course that will enable students to study, work and live in China.

The Summer II course, IND 210: Global Encounters: Cultural Immersion and Tutoring in China, includes a one-week Chinese language and culture course followed by a two-week internship in which Rider students will work as English conversation tutors for Chinese students in grades seven through 12.

“[The course] will provide an opportunity to learn basic Chinese and to learn firsthand about the Chinese culture and history,” said Joseph MacAde, director of International Programs. “It will also allow Rider students to have a rich intercultural experience working and coming into contact with Chinese coworkers and the students they will be tutoring.”

Students will stay at Fuzhou No. 1 Middle School during their three-week stay in Fuzhou, the capital of China’s Fujian Province. They will be housed in double rooms with television sets and common bathrooms and will eat all meals in the school cafeteria.

According to Dr. Minmin Wang, a professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism and instructor of the course, Fuzhou No. 1 Middle School is one of China’s six top public boarding schools and has the best and most modern educational facilities, including a planetarium and multimedia teaching
classrooms.

Wang added that attractive landscape surrounds the school.

“It’s a very beautiful place,” she said. “You have the coast and also the mountains.”

Students do not need to know the Chinese language before they depart for this trip. But when they are in China, they will learn some fundamental Chinese culture and language, according to Wang.

Rider students will take morning classes in the Chinese language for one week, and then in the afternoon, they will experience the language outside the classroom.

“In the classroom, you learn how to introduce yourself or how to greet another Chinese [person],” said Wang. “In the afternoon, you are taken into the street so you can practice. That’s the way you learn a foreign language.”

In addition to street conversations, students will also have the opportunity to sharpen their Chinese language skills by visiting Chinese families.

“This kind of experience is very rare,” said Wang. “You will never experience that as a tourist — that interpersonal bond.”

Graduate student Richard Griffin, who went to China last year when this program was offered as a pilot project and not a class, said being more than a tourist was an important part of the trip.

“The biggest benefit was getting to interact with the kids from China,” said Griffin. “You can go to China to travel and not talk to anyone, but you won’t get a sense of their culture.”

It may sound like this trip is all work and no play, but it’s not. Students will also have a two-day orientation and tour of Beijing, including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, as well as a two-day, one-night excursion to the coastal and historic city of Xiamen.

The program costs $3,895. This fee includes tuition for three credits, pre-departure orientation, room and board, visa fees, excursions and airfares.

According to MacAde, the University’s insurance will cover the students, but they will also need to pay a $70 fee for overseas coverage.

Junior Alexandra Samuel said $3,895 is a good deal for this program.

“It really is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Samuel. “The next time you go to China and it’s not with Rider, how much more difficult is it going to be to book the plane, to spend three weeks there, to tour through there, to figure out your room and board and to do all that under $4,000?”

According to MacAde, the students who take advantage of this opportunity will return to America with a higher level of self-confidence.

“The small things that bother you in your home country don’t seem to bother you anymore,” he said. “You’ve just taken on a major challenge and have a feeling that you can deal with other challenges.”

Seniors Pamela Estel and Stella Hickman, who participated in last year’s trip to China, said they are happy that they took advantage of this
program.

“I had so much fun learning about the Chinese culture,” said Hickman. “Overall, it was one of the best experiences that I have experienced in my life.”

Estel agreed.

“It was really an unforgettable experience, and if I ever learn Chinese, I would love to go back some day,” she said.

Wang encourages students interested in expanding their borders to come to an informational meeting on Tuesday, March 6, at 11:30 a.m., in Fine Arts 301.

“Before [the trip], maybe New Jersey is your platform,” she said. “Now you have the world.”

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