Kent State University at Stark is Hosting 27 Students from Shenzhen Polytechnic University and Beijing Wuzi University in China.
By Kelli Weir
Canton Repository Staff Writer
August 25, 2016
Despite not having any residence dorms on campus, Kent State University at Stark is hosting 27 Chinese students this semester as part of its new emphasis on multiculturalism and globalization.
Student orientation on Thursday for the nearly 30 students attending Kent State University at Stark this fall covered the basics: Where to buy your books, who to call if you need tutoring help and a tour of the campus.
But the daylong session also broached orientation topics untraditional for Kent State students: The etiquettes of dating, how to maintain personal space when talking to someone and about informal greetings.
“If you are walking down a sidewalk, people may say, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ but they don’t expect you to stop,” said Tammy Matecun, an education faculty member at Kent, to a group of four female students. “It’s very informal.”
This fall, Kent State at Stark is hosting 17 students from Shenzhen Polytechnic University in Shenzhen, China, and 10 from Beijing Wuzi University. All of the students are junior-level English majors.
The Stark campus, which piloted a smaller version of the program with Shenzhen Polytechnic University last year, is the first among Kent State’s seven regional campuses to partner with an international university.
The expanded effort is part of Dean Denise Seachrist’s push for multiculturalism and globalization on the Stark campus, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Since summer 2015, 123 Stark campus students have studied abroad.
Seachrist welcomed the international students Thursday with the Chinese greeting for “Hello” and said she hoped they not only will learn about American culture but they would share their culture with Kent’s students and faculty.
“You’re here to educate us, too,” Seachrist said. “By the time you leave, I want to be able to more than Nǐ hǎo.”
No dorms, no problem
International students are nothing new in Ohio. Roughly 4 percent of the 418,244 undergraduate students attending Ohio public universities last fall came from outside the United States. Walsh University, the University of Mount Union and Malone University collectively enrolled roughly 200 international students last year and have seen their foreign enrollments remain steady or rise in recent years.
What makes Kent State at Stark's program unique is that it is a commuter campus -- with no residence dorms.
Tina L. Biasella, director of external affairs and community relations at Kent State Stark, said the university is partnering with Staybridge Suites for its student housing. The students are living in apartment-style suites at the recently built extended stay hotel at 3879 Everhard Road NW and will have access to amenities such as 10 meals per week, Wi-Fi, fitness areas, business center, study spaces and laundry rooms, which are all paid through their student housing fees.
The Stark Area Regional Transit Agency will bus the students from the hotel to campus three times a day on weekdays as part of an agreement with Kent. Several of the students have discovered Uber to help them travel around Stark County.
Luca, whose Chinese name is Wenwang, gushed about the accommodations as well as Kent’s green campus.
“It feel like I have a vacation here. It’s so amazing,” she said.
The 20-year-old Wuzi University student hopes to improve her English while attending Kent. She had planned to pursue a career as a translator. But on Thursday, she was thinking of switching to a career path where she could return to the United States to live.
“I love the people here,” she said. “They are so friendly. They said, ‘Hi’ all the time. … I feel welcome here.”
She’s also attracted to many different cultures that exist in a single country.
“We do have differences in China in the different provinces, but the differences are much more here,” she said.
One of her goals while attending Kent is to become involved in on-campus student groups. She’s hoping to find a group full of pet lovers like herself, or possibly a group that enjoys movies, especially movies starring Johnny Depp.
“I want to meet new people. I want to experience the different culture,” she said.
Sarah Schmidt, coordinator of Kent State Stark’s global initiatives, said this year’s curriculum for the students from China has been bolstered to include classes and experiences where they will be integrated with domestic students.
Schmidt said since the students are receiving credit through their home universities, they will be attending similar courses that they would have been offered in China. For example, Wuzi University students, like Luca, must take either French or Japanese this semester. Other classes include American business and trade practices, speech and debate, business English and American pop culture.
Planned field trips include Niagara Falls and Washington, D.C., as well as day trips to Amish country, Cleveland and Cedar Point.
Classes begin Monday.