“What do you call these?” Dr. Zhang Ju Yang said, pointing to the displays of UNC Pembroke paraphernalia in the Bookstore.
Chinese University of Mining and Technology delegation – From left: Yu Xi, Tonghui Su, Fang Jin, Zhou Zhi Ren, Chi Zhong Jun, Zhang Ju Yang and Quingli Meng (not in picture).
Learning the word “souvenir” brought a smile to Dr. Zhang’s face. He had banked another English word in his growing vocabulary.
An orthopedic surgeon and hospital administrator from Xuzhou, China, Dr. Zhang attended UNCP’s May 7 commencement to receive a graduate degree in public administration (MPA).
In all, five Chinese nationals graduated from the MPA program, and three graduated in December. All professionals, they enrolled three years ago in UNCP’s first overseas pilot degree program through the Chinese University of Mining and Technology (CUMT).
They are: Dr. Zhang, Tonghui Su, a journalist, Quingli Meng, an English language professor at CUMT, Yu Xia, a government administrator and Fang Jin, a pharmaceutical sales manager.
After a weekend stay at UNCP, they went on a coast-to-coast tour of the U.S. The students traveled with CUMT administrators, Dean Zhou Zhi Ren and Dean Chi Zhong Jun. The CUMT deans met with top UNCP administrators to discuss new projects, including a second MPA cohort and joint faculty research projects.
“This was our first successful international degree program,” said Dr. Alex Chen, UNCP’s associate vice chancellor for international programs. “We learned a great deal from this project, and I am very grateful to all the UNCP administrative and academic units that assisted in this project.”
“This experience puts us in a position to offer additional programs around the globe,” Dr. Chen said.
The Chinese graduates said they received a warm welcome at UNCP, and they found that their idea of America is different from what they found in Pembroke.
“The weather is cool, but the hearts are warm,” Su said. “The people on campus are very nice.”
“We hear a lot about America, but being here I can see for myself that it is very different,” she said. The students said they benefited from the MPA program.
“We had wonderful professors,” Su said. “I improved my English very much.”
“In China, we learn English from our children. Three and four-year olds study English now,” she said. “We want to talk to the world.”
Dr. Zhang remained in Lumberton to shadow doctors and administrators at Southeastern Regional Medical Center.
“Xuzhou Hospital is very large, with 1,200 beds and 600 nurses,” Dr. Zhang said. “Xuzhou is 10 million people. It is a center of transportation.”
Meng, who is also a student of American literature, is researching graduate study in the U.S.
“I would like to study literature at Charlotte, perhaps,” Meng said. She is well-read and listed Ernest Hemmingway and Mark Twain as some of her favorite authors.
Su asked many questions about U.S. media and collected newspapers, including The Robesonian, The Fayetteville Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Pine Needle, UNCP’s student newspaper. She said travel benefits journalists.
“A very famous Chinese reporter said if you want to be a good reporter, you must travel,” Su said. “International thinking opens your eyes.”
With eyes wide open, they continued their journey of discovery.