Faculty involvement in International Education includes everything from organizing campus events to teaching overseas. Recently, Vol State Associate Professor Keith Bell traveled to China. Here is his account:
I was selected by the VSCC International Education Committee to participate in what was titled the “China Faculty Development Seminar” hosted by the University of Memphis’s Confucius Institute. I was selected due to my knowledge of the country (from a previous trip) and because I already had a working relationship with Dr. Hsiang-te Kung, my former geography professor and the trip organizer.
Prior to leaving for the trip I received questions from my peers here at VSCC about aspects of education and culture that I would likely encounter. The information I gathered, in part, will be presented at an in-service program for returning professors at the beginning of the fall semester.
The itinerary for the trip included stops in Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Guilin, Guangzhou and Hong Kong — essentially coastal, central and southern China. Our group of professors (from schools like the University of Memphis, Southwest Community College and Dyersburg State Community College) took in many of the sights any tourist might visit. For example, we toured cultural museums in cities like Shanghai and Guangdong, took a cruise on the southern Li River (where picturesque karst towers loomed over the landscape), and visited the harbor and business district at Hong Kong. I recorded the trip on digital and video cameras. Some pictures have already been posted on my web site.
More importantly during the two-week tour, our group made professional contacts with administrators and faculty at East China Normal University (Shanghai) and Hubei University (Wuhan). We brought gifts, received gifts, shared meals, and got to know our counterparts, as well as many students from Hubei University who were in the English language program. In fact, the students proved very beneficial as they accompanied us to many sites (along with some local guides) of unique cultural and/or historical significance (e.g. the Yellow Crane Tower, Buddhist temples, etc.).
The outcome of this interaction will hopefully turn into a beneficial exchange of professors, students and ideas between the two peoples and cultures. The Tennessee Consortium for International Studies, of which our College has an affiliation, has begun development of a study abroad program for next year in concert with The Confucius Institute. It is hoped that our professors will choose to lead a trip to China soon with a retinue of Tennessee college students. So the groundwork for such an exchange has been laid. One of the Chinese professors we met with will spend a year in Tennessee (beginning in August) working with State universities and colleges teaching the Chinese language and discussing pertinent issues of his homeland. VSCC has the immediate opportunity to benefit from the exchange in the 2009/2010 academic year.