Students from China Say “Zàijiàn” (Goodbye) and “Xièxie” (Thank You) to their Friends at Kent State University at Stark
Unlike many Northeast Ohioans who would rather not deal with the snow and cold of winter, a group of students from China were “pumped” about it.
“After seeing snow for the first time, I was pumped!” gushed Lin Baoyi, known as Bowie, her chosen English name, to her American counterparts at a graduation ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at Kent State University at Stark. “It was really beautiful.”
In a few days, though, they’ll be leaving Stark County’s bone-chilling winter, most of them for good. Bowie and 17 of her fellow students from Shenzhen Polytechnic University in Shenzhen, China, and 10 students from Beijing Wuzi University, received their certificates this week for the successful completion of English as a Second Language (ESL) and other courses at Kent State Stark.
In a rare feat for a regional campus, Kent State Stark brought 27 students from China in August to study ESL and immerse themselves in American culture. Initially brought up as an idea two years ago by a faculty member, Kent State Stark Dean Denise Seachrist saw this as fitting nicely into boosting globalization and multiculturalism on campus. Hosting students from China is part of a goal to increase the campus’ global presence. It was also the first time a Kent State regional campus partnered with two international universities.
Seachrist congratulated and thanked the students for choosing Kent State Stark.
“When I spoke with you when you arrived last summer, I said that we hoped to learn as much from you as you learn from us,” she said. “And we did learn from you. You immersed yourself in our culture and exposed our students, staff and faculty to the world beyond our borders. You have made new friends, tried new things, explored new places. These memories we share with you will last forever.”
The students took the stage to express gratitude and recap their memories of all the new experiences they gained while attending Kent State Stark. Many of their stories revolved around food, but also the fact that they gained more confidence in themselves while here.
Fan Ziyun of Shenzhen, also known as Zora, mentioned a number of firsts – cooking for her roommates (“Badly,” she joked); dressing up for Halloween; experiencing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with Kent State Stark English Professor Rob Sturr and his family; and visiting Cedar Point and Niagara Falls (“The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen”).
Cheeseburgers were a special delight for the students, especially Wang Wen of Beijing Wuzi University. Wang, known by her English name Luca, extolled the virtues of American food and told the audience how much she loved cheeseburgers and will miss eating them. She also joked that salads are “the only healthy thing Americans eat.”
There are plans to continue the program next fall, says Sarah Schmidt, outreach program coordinator in the Office of Global Education Initiatives.
As a special thank you, the Wuzi students sang and each held up a letters that spelled out “We love you all.” It was a fitting ending, and a feeling that was reciprocated by their American friends.
But perhaps Shenzhen student Yang Jialiang, or “Yale,” summed it up best when he said in perfect American slang, “Yale out!”