Enlightening exchange program

Story by Madeline Meyer

Fostering global citizenship remains an integral part of Drake University’s mission statement. Drake’s Chinese Cultural Exchange Program (CCEP) is an example of how Drake promotes global citizenship and encourages students to understand the world from an international point of view.

CCEP began in 2004 following a visit by President David Maxwell to Hebei province in China — Iowa’s sister state. The visit launched a new idea in which students from both Drake and universities in China would exchange students to expand learning environments to include international study. Exchanges are not limited to students, however. The program facilitates exchanges between faculty as well. On Feb. 19, Minxia Wang came from Hebei Medical University in China to share her expertise on adverse drug reactions to pharmaceutical students.

“It’s my pleasure to stand here (with you) and I give a special thanks to be able to spend time here at the University. I hope my comments today are helpful for your future,” Wang said when addressing students and faculty in her lecture.

The visit marks one of many exchanges between students and faculty from Chinese universities and Drake. The partnership between the two countries with education helps to advance students in practicing responsible global citizenship. Sophomore pharmacy major Tyler Ishman attended Wang’s lecture.

“I have more of a brief understanding of how United States pharmacy differs with Chinese pharmacy,” Ishman said. “When Chinese patients come into U.S. pharmacies we now know what to expect.”

The exchange program teaches students to embrace diversity. Kirk Martin, director of CCEP, studied abroad in China himelf.  Martin taught English in Shanghai for a year, and has continued to advocate international exchanges.

“I think it’s really important that we have more educational interactions and academic and personal interaction,” Martin said. “Through all the programs we have here we are able to create and facilitate interaction between peoples and support Chinese students here on campus.”

Education and learning styles vary from the United States and China, which encourages students to broaden their horizons academically. Senior Yijie Du is a Chinese exchange student from Sichuan International Studies University and is advancing her expertise in the field of journalism. Her international news and Internet communications double major does not transfer directly to Drake, but she is taking classes in the journalism school.

“The biggest difference is the free atmosphere in classes. Professors treat you as friends, and they want you to challenge them,” Du said. “Students are really involved in activities here and are willing to share their opinion, but in China students have to be called on. Professors want you to convey your opinions and problems.”

For Chinese students, conveying opinions can be challenging. While professors in the United States encourage discussion, instructors in China lecture without interruption, and expect students to comprehend what they are saying. Du said speaking in class is frightening for her because she is nervous that students might mistake her broken English. Having encouraging professors helps break the educational barrier.

“Most professors are really friendly. One professor told me that ‘I was important as anyone else’ and that meant so much to me,” Du said.

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