For the past four years, MCLA students, faculty and staff alike have expanded their knowledge of the Chinese culture, doing business overseas and the global economy as Laura Yang, Ph.D., of Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade (SIFT) has visited MCLA as part of the faculty exchange program between the two institutions.
In addition to providing a course on "Contemporary Economic and Business Issues in China" that Yang has taught each summer at MCLA since 2007, her work over recent months and last summer is expected to result in a new bilateral agreement between the College and SIFT that goes beyond the faculty exchange.
If approved, beginning in September 2011, students from both institutions will be able to study at each other's campus.
Five students from each campus will study abroad for one semester of exchange per year. When MCLA students attend SIFT in Shanghai, China, they will be hosted by SIFT School of International Studies.
"MCLA students will be able to enroll into Mandarin courses and business courses taught in English with other students from overseas or with local SIFT students," Yang explained.
In addition, she and MCLA Professor Ben Kahn are developing a China study tour program for the College's PMBA (Professional Master's of Business Administration) students, as well as an MCLA study tour program for SIFT students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, to come to North Adams and the Berkshire County region.
According to Yang, SIFT and MCLA share many of the same beliefs about education, as well as similarities in practices.
"I feel so at home every time I am here and I was so happy to welcome MCLA students in Shanghai," Yang said. "I feel very honored and proud to be able to make some contribution to bring students from our two nations together because they are the future of our both countries. In the era of globalization, no country could stay isolated from the rest of the world. And the Sino-American relationship forms a very important pillar for the whole world.
"As educators, it is our social responsibility to prepare our students better for their future professional careers with a comprehensive global perspective. Reciprocally, I look forward to SIFT having a MCLA faculty every year to visit and teach in an area of mutual interest."
The development of these programs follows a study tour course for undergraduate students that Yang developed in 2007 with Kahn.
"The experiences the MCLA students had in China were second to none," Yang said. Students enjoyed a multinational, historical and cultural tour, getting a first-hand view into the world's most populous nation with tours of four of its cities.
In Beijing, they visited the National People's Congress, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, The Great Wall, the site of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Summer Palace, and Temple of the Heavens. Their visit to Shanghai included corporate tours at General Motors and Volkswagen, including meetings with production executives. They also visited the Shanghai Stock Market and met with members of its board of directors. In addition, the students toured the World Trade Organization Consultation Center, the Bund Business District, the Pearl Communication and Television Tower and the Shanghai Museum.