The following article was written by Xiaoli Liu of the International Office at Wuhan University and originally appeared on the Wuhan University News Center web site and can now be found in their archives. It was translated to English by Jia-Jiuan Wu at the English Language Institute.
Classes at a Famous University in the U.S.:
The Second Annual "American Culture and Language Program" at the University of Pittsburgh
Students engaged in activities, such as participating in discussions in English on Harvard Business case studies; performing biological experiments in the lab at one of the top biomedical programs in the world; listening to Americans’ unique opinions about history, politics, religion, law, education, and culture; conducting surveys showing the interesting differences in the evaluations of Obama’s presidency; visiting Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Princeton University; and much more!
From July 14th to August 6th, 2011, 26 students from Wuhan University in China attended the “American Culture and Language Program for Wuhan University” in the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt)” Students experienced the realities of university classrooms in the U.S. as they were completely immersed in the English environment and American culture. They also formed solid friendships with other classmates. There is no doubt that what happened in their 24 days of studying in the US will remain as distinct and unforgettable memories of their college life.
Immersed in an English Learning Environment and
Experienced the American Style of Teaching
The “American Culture and Language Program” at the English Language Institute at the University of Pittsburgh was designed with a clear goal: creating an opportunity for Wuhan students to register to be a student at a highly reputable foreign university and to experience the teaching style in the US during their summer break. Wuhan University students who are planning to study abroad can take advantage of this special opportunity to get more information about studying abroad,” said Jiangbin Lu, the Director of the International Office of Wuhan University.
The 24-day “American Culture and Language Program” at the English Language Institute is a part of the “Pitt in Wuhan Summer Study Abroad Program”, which is financed by Hanban (part of the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language). Wuhan students were registered as students at the University of Pittsburgh, a member of the Association of American Universities, and finished the ELI’s required 25-hours of language and cultural classes, including coursework in American history, economy, politics, law, religion, culture, and education. In addition to the 25 ELI classroom hours, the students also attended selected university courses. Based on their majors, they attended academic classes in their major field with other Pitt university students to learn content in their major and about the different style of teaching. In their ELI culture classes, they were required to do group presentations. Through teamwork, they picked their topics for their final presentations, conducted surveys and interview Americans on the streets; they then analyzed the data they got from the surveys, and designed a PowerPoint for their final presentations. On the last day of class, students presented what they found from the surveys to their classmates, instructors and guests. One student studying information management at Wuhan even wrote an article that was published in the ELI News (the ELI’s weekly newsletter for students)! At the end of the program, all students received a certificate for their participation in the program. In addition, five excellent students were selected by their instructors and received a certificate recognizing their exceptional effort.
The 26 participants in the program this past summer were from seven different departments. Even though they had different backgrounds, they all showed their strong English skills and integrated abilities. One of the students was invited to attend the Nobel ceremony, one won the first prize of the National Challenge Cup for college students in Hubei Province; several of them have received admissions from graduate schools in the US already.
“The students were really impressive. Not only was their English ability good, but they also actively participated in class discussions. They showed their critical thinking abilities and expressed their ideas. Many of my colleagues at Pitt asked me what my impression was of these students. I always say that words can’t describe how good this group was. What a surprising and impressive group!,” said Rob Mucklo, ELI instructor and the Coordinator of the “American Culture and Language Program for Wuhan University.”
Visiting Other Universities and Meeting Wuhan Alumni
In addition to the curriculum, the students also visited Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). At Harvard University, our cooperation partner, the Harvard-Yenching Institute, gave our group an enthusiastic reception. They not only planned a campus tour in English for our group but also arranged for a special seminar organized by the university’s office responsible for the recruitment of graduate students from Asia. They gave tips for students on how to apply to reputable universities in the US and also some information about studying abroad at Harvard University. In the seminar, our students asked questions about their future plans and scholarships.
While at the University of Pittsburgh, four Wuhan alumni currently studying at Pitt and a professor from Wuhan currently teaching in the Department of Statistics at Pitt shared with us their experience studying in Pittsburgh. “We were greatly enlightened from this presentation, especially when we heard some alumni say they have 12 quizzes, two midterms, and one final for each class per semester. In other words, they have exams almost every week. We were so surprised to hear that, and also think we have to study harder,” said Jiameng Zheng, a student in the “American Culture and Language Program”.
Creating “a second campus” for our students and cultivating our students to have international awareness, an open mind, and to be competitive internationally are always our main goals for our international exchange programs. We work hard on making students’ exchange programs diverse, so the majority of our students can benefit from our programs and we can get more students to participate in these activities. We have been trying to expand our programs in every aspect, from special projects, such as “2+2”, “1+1” and “3+1+1”, to the creation of specific programs, such as the “American culture and Language Program for Wuhan University in the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Pittsburgh”, the Luojia Summer Study Program, and the Wuhan in East Europe Summer Study Abroad Program. Wuhan University enthusiastically works to cultivate an international perspective for its students.
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If you are interested in a custom program for your group of 15 or more, contact:
Special Programs Coordinator