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Chinese students arrive at IUPUI for joint sociology study-abroad program

Sun Yat-Sen Study Abroad Students
Sun Yat-Sen Study Abroad Students View print-quality image

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August 10, 2012

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A group of Chinese students from Sun Yat-Sen University arrived in Indianapolis on Monday for a two-week study abroad opportunity at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

The students, led by Sun Yat-Sen professor Yuxin Pei, will attend seminars and immerse themselves in American culture and society during their stay. Their visit is the second phase of a two-way student exchange under a new partnership between IUPUI and Sun Yat-Sen University, in Guangzhou, China.

Earlier this summer, eight IUPUI and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne students, with their advisor, IUPUI professor Wan-Ning Bao, Ph.D., spent three weeks at Sun Yat-Sen University, where they attended seminars on contemporary Chinese social issues and visited local organizations and communities.

The partnership is sponsored by the Department of Sociology at IUPUI and the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Sun Yat-Sen. The program is partially funded by the Lingnan Foundation, an American philanthropy organization seeking to help advance higher education in South China and to promote understanding between Chinese and American scholars and students.

During their stay in Indianapolis, the Chinese visitors will participate in seminars on topics as diverse as American education, religion, sports, youth gambling, women's shelters and the foster care system. They will visit Indiana University campuses, the Julian Center, George Washington Community School, the Indiana Women’s Prison, Eli Lilly and Co. and Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. The students also will spend time at the Indiana State Fair, Connor Prairie and the Children’s Museum, and visit Chicago.

The IUPUI English Department and the Indiana Center for Intercultural Communication, both part of the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, will hold workshops on cross-cultural communication and student research writing for the visiting students.

While in China, the American students explored Chinese culture and society broadly by taking individual field trips. Based on students’ interests, they studied topics such as community organizations, the Chinese health care system, the legal system, urban geography and marital happiness.

As part of her field study in China, IUPUI student Karen Higbee spent time at Sun Yat-Sen’s legal clinic, which serves those in need of legal assistance who cannot afford an attorney.

“The clinic is staffed and run by the students at Sun Yat-Sen who are studying law. This is very different than in America. In America no one can offer legal advice or offer legal help unless they are a licensed attorney,” Higbee said. “In China however, they believe the students are knowledgeable enough to help citizens more than they could ever hurt them.”

The American students learned much about Chinese culture and society through their own observations and participation in the field studies, said Bao, an associate professor of sociology in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

“Students’ understanding and respect for different cultures and society are enhanced through direct observation and participation in social organizations, events and everyday life," Bao said. "The joint program also facilitated the integration of academic work with field study and helped establish international perspectives in understanding common social issues in China and the U.S.”