While summer break is usually a time for relaxation, 21 JMU students will travel to China to share American culture with middle and high-school-aged students and expose individuals to the English language.
The China-America International Cultural Exchange is sponsored by Cultural Exchange Options Inc. in the U.S. and the Guandong University of Science and Technology in China. Junior sociology major Wendy Mu is a manager at CEO, a business that her father started.
“A lot of things in Chinese culture you can’t really study in a book or [you have to] experience it hands-on,” Mu said.
Mu, who was born in China, hasn’t been back since she was three years old. Mu spread the word through the several JMU Official Facebook pages to get a sense of who would be interested in the trip.
Mu said the goal of this trip is to let Chinese students gain a sense of American culture.
This is the first year that CEO is planning a program like this and knowledge of Chinese isn’t required for the trip. The Chinese students will learn more about English through the various topics that the American students will share with them, such as information about holidays and practices in America.
Samantha Amey, a junior interdisciplinary liberal studies major, taught in Ghana last summer. Amey said student teaching allows her to both learn and adapt to a different culture.
“It opened up my eyes to international travel and teaching abroad, so I’m excited to have another opportunity to work with children of another culture,” Amey said. “It was a great experience to work with people who weren’t like me.”
Students in this program will stay at Guandong University in China. They will share what it’s like to live in America with teenagers in high school and younger.
Nady Soe, a sophomore international affairs and Spanish major, was interested in the program after learning it was free. The program fee that the students in China pay cover all of the fees for the students going to China to teach. Noe briefly lived in Myanmar but is excited to learn about a new culture and way of life.
“Part of my plan was to join the Peace Corps after graduation, which will most likely lead me to teaching English, so I thought this was great exposure,” Soe said. “I would like to give them a new perspective on what it’s like to grow up here and go to university here.”
For Mu, the future of trips such as this for CEO will broaden the range of students that participate. Right now, many of the students are education majors, but the goal is to include students from all different types of majors.
“I’m pretty excited about returning to China,” Mu said. “I’ll get to experience what I’m missing out on and be educated about my own culture.”
Contact Matthew Sasser at firstname.lastname@example.org.