Six delegates from a Chinese college visited MCCC to discuss an international partnership.
The president and five professors from Ningbo City College of Vocational Technology traded ideas Wednesday, Sept. 22, with MCCC administrators and faculty on possible exchange programs.
The idea of an international partnership started when Randy Daniels, vice president of Student and Information Services, traveled to Shanghai, China for an educational conference last spring.
At the conference, Daniels met employees from the Ningbo City College of Vocational Technology and later visited their college.
Ningbo City College is a three-year vocational college located in Zhejiang, China, near Shanghai. It serves nearly 9,000 students, roughly the same as MCCC.
“It’s smaller than yours, but I feel proud of our campus,” said Jenny Zheng, an English professor and translator for the Ningbo delegation.
The delegation was scheduled to arrive at 2 p.m., but after an hour and a few wrong turns, they made their entrance at 3.
“When you’re in a foreign country, you get lost sometimes,” head of campus security Bill Myers said, while keeping an eye out for their van.
Zheng apologized for their late arrival before introducing the five other visitors.
Attending from NCC were President Taiwu Li and professors Hang Mingbo, He Junjun, Pan Qin and Shao Yiming.
MCCC staff present included President David Nixon, vice presidents Sue Wetzel, Randy Daniels, and Grace Yackee, and Joanna Sabo, head of the International Studies Club and professor of Political Science.
After introductions and the informational exchange, potential partnerships were discussed.
Zheng said she hopes for friendship first and then cooperation.
“We hope our students can share the education resources, and that we can offer you something that we have,” she said. “Maybe that’s Chinese culture or Chinese education.”
Nixon said there may be opportunities available soon.
“A number of details need to be worked out,” Nixon said. “However, it fits right in with MCCC’s diversity objectives and the college mission.”
Possible exchanges that may be available for MCCC students could be to stay at NCC’s campus for as little as a month or as long as several years.
Zheng said Ningbo’s professors have much to offer to U.S. students.
“Some professors of our college are very good, for instance Pan Qin. He’s a very famous artist in our country. I think you can get a lot from professors like him.”
Another exchange discussed was faculty from both schools teaching in the other country for a few months.
Zheng said the education in China is a bit different from the United States.
“Maybe American education is more free, because I know American students can learn what they like more freely. However, in our country maybe they are not so free to choose their interest,” she said.
She said in China, however, students usually listen to their teachers more.
“That’s why we want to cooperate with your college, because we hope our students will get different education and will learn different culture,” she said.
Sabo brought up other differences between the cultures.
“I think they have similar academics, but they also don’t have the Internet access, the recourses, and the same type of free press,” she said. “They may have a newsletter, but the students likely would not be able to print whatever they want.”
She said that the classroom activity in the U.S. is much more casual than in other cultures.
“I’m going to guess from my experience in other Asian cultures that they probably have a much more formal classroom environment,” she said.
Another difference is the cost of living. One semester stay in a dorm at NCC amounts to roughly $90.
Yet the biggest difference between China and the U.S. is the political systems. Sabo explained that China is taking on economic aspects of capitalism.
“China is interesting because they’re one of the first large communist countries to try opening up their markets without letting go of a Communist-principled government.”
Sabo said other leaders from other schools internationally were not always as cheerful as Li.
“One thing that I thought was very interesting was that their president appeared to have a great sense of humor,” Sabo said. “I think he liked to have a good time.”
One event that led to laughter came at the end of the discussion when both presidents thanked each other for their time.
They referred to MCCC’s president sharing the same name as former U.S. president Nixon – ironic because Nixon broke the political ice between China and the United States.
“The icebreaker,” Nixon said after Li thanked him by title and name.
“Nixon is very, very famous in our country,” Li said.
The room filled with laughter.
“They can go back and say they met President Nixon,” Sabo said.
Sabo explained later that Nixon is well respected in China, despite his reputation in the U.S.
“A lot of people in the United States remember President Nixon for almost being impeached or being a crooked president, and the truth is he was one of the best presidents we’ve had for international relations,” she said. “That ice he broke with China has continued to melt.”
After potential ideas were discussed between the schools, the delegates went for a tour of the campus.
They saw the Admissions building, the courtyard, the Meyer Theater, the Life Science building, and the library, taking many pictures along the way.
Before leaving, several staff from MCCC joined the delegates for dinner.
Communication was a major aspect of the dinner, as there was a translator at only two of the three tables. Sabo was at the table without the translator.
She said they were still able to talk about sports, social customs, potential partnership ideas, and their students’ ages through gesturing, struggling through words, and an occasional interpretation from Zheng.
“It was interesting how we were able to communicate and learn about each other and have a few discussions with a total language barrier,” Sabo said.
At the dinner, Sabo also gave the delegates United Nations pins as gifts on behalf of the International Studies Club.
The club bought the pins for the purpose of future gifts, while visiting the UN in a previous year, Sabo said.
Though nothing is certain yet, plans are in the process for the door between MCCC and Chinese education to be opened.