By: Roger Hoke – Staff Writer
Every student on campus now has the ability to study in a country on the other side of the planet, thanks to the University of Dayton China Institute in Suzhou Industrial Park, and a grant awarded to the program.
According to the university’s website, the United States Embassy in Beijing donated $97,647 to UDCI. The donation is going to fund the production of projects between UD students and students from China.
According to interim Provost Paul Benson, the UDCI was opened formally a year ago but has been in the works for three years. The grant is allowing more plans to be carried out at UDCI.
“We have been looking for additional ways to collaborate UD students with Chinese students,” Benson said. “The plan is to have UD students working and creating relationships with Chinese students.”
This plan will go into effect as students from UD and China work together on joint presentations. The presentations will cover topics such as environmental and historical issues, according to Benson.
As for the grant UDCI received, there were 19 other universities in the running for the award. Benson believes UD received the prize due to the uniqueness of the program UDCI offers.
Based in Suzhou, instead of massive cities like Beijing, Benson believes this offers students a better transition from the American lifestyle to the Chinese lifestyle.
Benson spoke of how American students will also be able to help with service opportunities in the industrial park area, which is not only unique in China, but is new to Chinese culture.
“Students can help Chinese students to learn the English language, and American students will learn a lot about the civic culture and Chinese life and history,” Benson said. He said this is the best way to enrich a semester in China.
Another reason the provost found UDCI to be so attractive was the cost.
“We have worked very hard to make it affordable for UD students,” Benson said. The cost to spend a semester in China should be almost the same as spending one at UD.
Benson hopes the setting of UDCI in the Suzhou industrial park area will bring about many opportunities for students to make connections with major companies in another country.
“Students have a really significant opportunity to have contact with major employers and to be mixed in with major corporations from all over the world, including Ohio, everyday,” Benson said. “It is good for your own personal development and great for your professional development as well.”
There have been groups of students who have taken the trip to Suzhou already, but the number of participants will now be able to grow.
“We ran a small summer project this past year and started small,” Benson said. “Our capacity is going to be large, and we will soon be able to take 100 to 125 students on a single trip.”
Benson said he hopes the program will grow to include students from other schools across the nation and the world.
The semester abroad program begins in January 2015. Students can go to udayton.edu/china_institute/semester_programs/apply_now.php to learn more.