Lee, who is studying college counseling and student development, chronicled the May 11-24 trip by both undergraduate and graduate students who received scholarships to learn Mandarin Chinese and attend a conference at China Women’s University.
“Visiting China was pretty much a dream come true,” Lee said. “I’ve traveled to other countries before, and China was different in that I grew up reading, seeing and hearing a lot more about China than other countries. Chinese culture and diaspora is so pervasive throughout the world, so China was already a lot more real to me.”
Lee said the trip helped her to see the country’s real culture and separate that from inaccurate depictions and assumptions she had learned about China.
While in China the students visited China Women’s University, Hua Qiao Foreign Language University and Jilin Normal University. They spent time with counterparts at the Chinese universities to learn about Chinese culture.
“We discussed issues of gender, ability and access and economic disparity,” Lee said. “We’re very fortunate to experience campus life at three universities, experience a home stay and make friends — all within two weeks.”
At Jilin Normal University they each spent a night with the family of a Chinese student and spent the evening going to the movie theater, a park and singing karaoke.
In Beijing the group visited Beijing Hanban, the headquarters for the Confucius Institutes, which seeks to provide resources for teaching Chinese language and culture worldwide. They also saw several cultural sites including the Great Wall of China and Tienanmen Square.
Lee said she encourages other students to consider traveling on the China study abroad trip in the future.
“I hope students will take advantage of this opportunity,” she said. “The St. Cloud State and overseas staff created a warm and inclusive learning environment everywhere we went.”