When Yuping Han, a professor at Liaocheng University in China, served as an interpreter for a visiting delegation from the University of North Georgia three years ago, she never imagined it would lead to her teaching here.
Han, who is the director of the Center for Teaching Chinese and Foreign Language at Liaocheng, is spending the summer as an instructor in UNG's six-week intensive Summer Language Institute. She is one of many from Liaocheng currently visiting UNG through the two schools' exchange program that began in 2009. Liaocheng University is located in the western part of Shandong Province and is a comprehensive university of nearly 30,000 students.
|Yuping Han, a visiting professor fromLiaocheng University in China, goes over
Chinese vocabulary during a class session.
"I'm very happy to be here at UNG, since I have learned so much about the university during my contacts with the people and the students through the exchange," she said. "I never thought that I would be here to teach a whole class. It's like a dream, but the dream is true."Han said she eagerly put her name on the exchange list to visit UNG this summer, but was surprised when Dr. Chris Jespersen, dean of UNG's College of Arts & Letters, asked if she would be interested in teaching a six-week Chinese course during her exchange visit.
"I was very happy to see that so many students want to learn Chinese. That's good news," she said. "For me, the time flies. I have been so happy with the students because they have been so cute and so hard-working."
She also expressed her gratitude to Chi-Hsuan Catterson, a UNG instructor of Chinese who is also teaching the summer intensive course, and Nicolas Hu, language lab coordinator, for their help in preparing to teach the course.
Dr. Ping Kuang, a visiting finance professor, shares Han's affinity for American students.
"The students are very different. American students are very smart and positive in the classroom. They ask questions about all of the topics that are connected with the class," she said. "Chinese students are shy, quiet and take lots of notes. They are good test-takers, but American students enjoy the lectures more."
Kuang has been spending time with colleagues in the Mike Cottrell College of Business and lecturing to various classes, but also spoke to the Kiwanis Club in Gainesville, Ga. Kuang said she'd be interested in future research collaborations with UNG.
"This exchange is about understanding different cultures and atmospheres. If time permits, I'd like to speak with the professors in the College of Business about research fields and to find common interests that we share so we can work together," she said.
John Wilson, director of UNG's Center for Global Engagement, said the growing partnership with Liaocheng continues to pay dividends for both schools and their respective communities.
"It's mutually beneficial, economically, culturally, socially and even politically," Wilson said. "I feel that the small steps we're taking are helping us all understand each other better and hopefully making the world a little bit better place each day as we all get to know each other."
This spring, a number of UNG faculty members and administrators visited Liaocheng and six UNG students just completed a summer exchange at the university. This fall, 14 professors who teach English at Liaocheng will be guests of UNG's Center for Language Education and six Liaocheng cadets will be exchange students here.
The collaboration reflects UNG’s mission, which aims to help students become globally competent citizens by developing an awareness of other regions of the world. Study abroad experiences and faculty exchange programs are critical elements of this effort.