Several current NC State students have already had opportunities to connect with China in unique ways. Following are reflections on those experiences from some of the students involved.
Hannah Litzenberger, Sophomore
College of Natural Resources
I had the opportunity to visit China for two weeks in May on a study tour through the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources. On our trip we visited Beijing and Xi'an. Xi'an is a 12-hour train ride southwest of Beijing and home to a so-called “eighth wonder of the world,” the Terracotta Warriors, an army of terracotta figures buried in front of Emperor Qinshihuang's tomb in 210 B.C. to protect him in the afterlife.
The trip was a unique experience because it was a mix of science and culture. We were able to learn about China from a natural resources perspective, which few tourists get to experience. China is at a real crossroads as the people and the government balance scarce natural resources with lifestyles of increased consumption. Seeing firsthand China’s challenges with water, soil and forest resources – and then meeting with those who are developing solutions – was a unique privilege.
We also had the wonderful opportunity to experience China's rich history and culture. It was amazing to see the infamous Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, the Summer Palace and many other sites.
The best part about my experience in China, though, was interacting with the Chinese people, especially the students. We had students from Beijing Forestry University and the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University travel with us on our daily excursions. Each of us on the trip became very close to the students we met. The students were extremely motivated to talk with us and practice their English. I loved talking with them about their interests, school, music, TV and movies and comparing and contrasting the American student lifestyle with the Chinese student lifestyle. Our new Chinese friends took us out to their favorite hangouts and restaurants. Because of them I was able see a dynamic of Chinese culture that I never would have experienced otherwise. I still keep in contact with many of the students I met, and one even just arrived to join us at NC State this August to pursue her Ph.D.
China is a country on the verge of extreme growth and progress. I got the most profound sense of momentum while I was in China. News stories about China are appearing more and more in print and on television and will continue to become a more prominent topic as time progresses. It is up to the rest of the world, and especially America, to pay closer attention to China so that both of our countries can grow cooperatively and progress in harmony. Partnerships among students and universities, like those that we were able to build this summer, are by far the most successful way to foster such international cooperation successfully.
There is no question about it in my mind: I most certainly want to go back to China. I only visited two cities, and though we did get to visit more rural areas, China is such a large country with much more to see and discover. It would be like coming to America and only visiting New York and Chicago. I would love to live in China for an extended period of time; I would even like to teach English there.
Kate Caldwell, Graduate Student
College of Natural Resources
This past May, I traveled with a group from the Dept of Forestry and Environmental Resources to China for a short 10-day course. While I was struck by the magnificence of the mountains, the Great Wall, and the brightly painted pagodas, I was most impressed by the friendliness and openness with which we were greeted. We were hosted by Beijing Forestry University and Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University. Each day two students accompanied us as we visited forestry and cultural sites.
One of the most memorable – albeit slightly embarrassing – moments was at a talent show/party arranged for us at BFU. After listening to the very talented students singing and playing traditional instruments it was our turn. We wanted to reciprocate the gesture so we went to the front of the room to proudly sing a very off-key rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” And as bad as it was, the students cheered the whole time! We all came away from that night with a little bit more humility, a few memories and a lot more friends.
In addition to my observation on the friendliness of the country, the experience taught me a lot about the progress China has been making on the tree breeding and plantation fronts. It was encouraging to see a country that is developing so quickly being somewhat cognizant of its natural resources.
I would go back, but I would start by going to a region of the country that we were unable to visit – it’s a big place!
Ling Xiang, Doctoral Student
College of Engineering
Q. Why did you come to study at NC State? How easy or hard is it to get information about American universities in China?
A. After I graduated from college, I felt I'd like to study in the U.S. to experience another culture and at the same time to learn advanced technology. I applied to NC State because it is a great research institution, especially in engineering. Since the Internet is really popular and widely used, it is not hard to get info about American universities in China.
Q. Have you been back to China since you began your studies here? What are your plans after you receive your degree?
A. I went back home last Christmas. I missed my family so much. After graduation I might look for a job here and work for a while to get experience before I go back to China.
Q. What do you think of NC State's agreements with Chinese universities? Do you think these agreements will assist more Chinese students in finding out about NC State and eventually coming to school here? Is North Carolina a popular destination for people in China?
A. It is great that NC State has agreements with universities in China. This will surely help advertise NC State to Chinese college students and attract more students to come here. To be honest, North Carolina is not geographically as popular as New York City, Chicago, California, etc. However we are here to study, so the institution is a major factor we take into account.