William Carey creates exchange program with China

Published 12:31 am Sunday, November 29, 2009

Just three Chinese students currently attend William Carey University, but that number will soon change.

William Carey has signed an agreement with China’s Linyi Normal University to start an exchange of faculty and students between the two schools. Twenty students from Linyi Normal, which has 35,000 students in Shandong Province, will begin study at William Carey beginning in fall 2010.

“We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship,” said William Carey President Tommy King after signing the deal with Linyi Normal President Xu Tongwen.

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King said the agreement is unique for the Baptist university. While William Carey has had other exchange programs, he said it has never had a pact with an international university that allows for the pursuit of degrees at both schools.

Under the new pact, students at both schools will have the opportunity to earn dual degrees, either by spending two years at each institution or three years at one and an additional year at the other. They will study a range of subjects in music, the sciences and education.

King said he hopes the agreement will eventually lead to an international business program at William Carey with an emphasis on China.

“Especially with the port here at Gulfport and the Gulf Coast’s interest in trade, China will become an important trade partner with Mississippi,” King said.

Rebecca Zou, 19, and her sister Rachel are two of the three Chinese students currently attending William Carey University.

How does that make her feel?

“Special,” she said with a laugh.

The agreement also will enhance the school’s mission work overseas, King said. Missionaries are not allowed in China, unless they come in the role of students, teachers or some other profession, he explained.

Tongwen said he was eager to exchange teachers as soon as possible.

“The educational quality here is very great,” he said through his interpreter, Linyi Normal foreign language professor Gao Dexin. “We invite teachers (over to Linyi), so that more students get the benefit from the exposure.”

Specifically, bringing American teachers to China will give more students there a chance to learn English, said Scott Hummel, vice president for Institutional Advancement and Church Relations.

“While Chinese is the most commonly spoken first language, English is the most commonly spoken second language, so it is very important to have that skill,” he said.

It will work both ways.

King said the agreement also will allow Carey to join the University of Mississippi as the only Mississippi schools with Chinese language programs.

In addition, Linyi Normal students who come to William Carey will be able to enter a short-term program, up to one year, designed specifically to improve their English language skills.

Zou, a junior on a music scholarship, said that’s one of several benefits for Chinese students enrolling at Carey. Another, she said, is the opportunity to work with professors in a more intimate environment.

China has more than 15 million university students in its mostly-public universities. Zou said the large student population makes for very large classes back home, “at least 100-200 students” in each classroom.

“Here (William Carey), the teachers are nice, and you get to work in small groups,” she said.