This summer, 14 professors from a Chinese university, representing a variety of fields from mathematics to English literature, spent a month learning about American educational practices at the University of North Georgia (UNG).
The July visit by faculty members from Liaocheng University was hosted by UNG's Center for Language Education (CLE), and visiting professors observed UNG classes, attended seminars about instructional strategies used in universities, and developed their English communication skills by attending conversation classes. CLE helps prepare international students for university studies.
This summer's four-week program is a repeat of a similar pedagogy and English training program offered by CLE in 2013. After successful feedback from visiting Liaocheng professors who participated then, the program was offered again.
"This program is extending and strengthening our friendship with UNG and Liaocheng University. It is solidifying scholarly collaboration and exchange of faculty and students," said Dr. James Badger, CLE director.
The thriving exchange program with Liaocheng University, a comprehensive university of nearly 30,000 students in Shandong Province, China, is one of UNG's longest-running international partnerships. Since signing agreements for a faculty exchange in 2009 and a student exchange in 2010, UNG and Liaocheng each has hosted a steady stream of administrators, faculty members and students, sharing ideas for learning and teaching their respective cultures in programs ranging from a few days to an entire semester.
"You travel 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean and the entire United States to come to a place called Dahlonega because you know UNG is a great place to learn," Xiaoyan Yang, CLE assistant director, said during a dinner to welcome the delegation. "We've developed a really deep relationship between the two universities. This partnership is growing and we are making more and more Liaocheng friends."
The Liaocheng professors participating in the program, many of whom had never been to the United States before, learned about American culture through visits to nearby locales like Amicalola Falls and Dawsonville outlet mall and Atlanta tourist destinations like the Georgia Aquarium, CNN and the World of Coca-Cola.
Lily Lee, who teaches foreign language at Liaocheng, thanked the group's UNG hosts for making their "American dream" come true.
"The whole partnership has been strengthened through these productive programs," Lee said. "As with the previous Liaocheng University teachers who visited, we are willing to devote ourselves to learning, changing, making friends here and making contributions to the further development of our two universities."
The collaboration supports UNG's strategic plan and focuses on helping students become globally competent citizens by developing an awareness of other regions of the world.
Chinese is among the 10 languages taught at UNG, and students can earn a bachelor's degree in modern languages with a concentration in Arabic, Chinese, French, or Spanish. Largely driven by student interest, the Chinese program has grown swiftly since the university first began offering Chinese classes in 2006.
While most of UNG's foreign exchange programs are study abroad opportunities for students, the university offers a growing number of exchanges that provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff.