MCLA students are learning more about China this semester as they live, eat, socialize and attend classes with a group of exchange students from Hebei University, thanks to a five-year articulation agreement between the two institutions.
According to Sharron Zavattaro, who directs MCLA's study abroad program, our students learn much from the Chinese students.
"Our MCLA students experience a different culture including varying points of view based on Chinese ethnicity. Our students befriend the Chinese exchange students and include them in various activities and events," Zavattaro said.
The exchange students have adjusted to life in the Berkshires quite easily. Ren Wenshuo, a broadcast media student, said she loves it at MCLA, where she joined the Dance Company, the TV broadcasting club and the photography club.
"The scenery here is really beautiful. When I first got here, I was wondering whether it is a park or a school," Wenshuo said. "Studying in such a peaceful environment makes me really excited. Whenever I am tired, I take a deep breath, look at the mountains through the window and fatigue will go.
"Professors here treat me really well," she continued. "They always love to welcome me to contract them when I have problems with my studies. Students here are open and passionate. Their positive attitudes inspire me, and they are so helpful. When I first came here, some of them took me to the mall to buy some necessities. When they say 'hi' to me, their big smiles let me feel warm. And, I have a really beautiful roommate. She always takes care of me, and she invited me home for the holidays."
To live and study in America is the realization of Zhengxi Feng's dream. Like Wenshuo, she has many friends on campus.
"The best thing here is the professors and the students. I will never forget them," Feng said. "We sometimes play card games. And when our birthday comes, they made cookies and cakes for us. It's very sweet. Once on Rui Xi's birthday, our American friends made a cake for her. And, they wrote her name on the cake in Chinese, which was very difficult to write. She cried when she saw the cake," Feng said.
Her favorite American food is French toast. "I eat that every morning. It's sweet and soft. Very delicious."
Guo Yong, who is majoring in finance, said the experience has been eye-opening.
"The values, culture and many things are different here from China," Yong said. "I would suggest that my friends in China come here to learn business from Professor Ben Kahn. He knows much about China - to some extent even more than me."
"My English is improving a lot," Weicheng Qu said. "Classes here are more interesting than those in China. What's more, I realize that I need to spend more time on studying, which helps me to think about my future life. I had never done this in China."
Like Yong, he will recommend that other Hebei students study at MCLA.
"I am experiencing a new life that I can't imagine in China. It's changed my view on many things."