President's Report Masthead
June 30, 2013

Harpur College partnership with Chinese school continues

A partnership that began in 2012 brought nearly two dozen sophomore students from Zhenjiang International School (ZIS) in China to Binghamton University for a week this spring.

In the partnership, ZIS students take Binghamton University online English and writing classes and then attend Binghamton University after their high school graduation if their English skills and performance in Binghamton classes are strong. The recent visit introduced them to Binghamton University, its classes, campus life and the community.

Spending time in the United States provides a quick immersion for the Zhenjiang students, giving them a taste of what it will be like to be a student at Binghamton University.

The group, which included 23 students, two chaperones, ZIS Principal Zhou, English teacher Dora Qiu and Cherry Pu, arrived at Binghamton University on April 28. While here, they toured the campus and the Nature Preserve, completed English as a Second Language evaluations, met with faculty, attended classes with members of the Chinese Student and Scholar Association, ate in the dining halls and learned about Blackboard, the campus digital course management system.

They also took time to see the surrounding community, with visits to Roberson Museum and Science Center, Binghamton High School, the Town Square Mall and Corning Museum of Glass.

A farewell banquet in the Mandela Room included plenty of conversation among new friends, as well as performances by many of the ZIS students.
This was not the first time ZIS students visited Binghamton. Another cohort of students made the trip in 2012, and as was the case then, one steadying constant for the students during their visit was the presence of Andy Horowitz. A Binghamton University artist-in-residence and co-founder of the Galumpha dance troupe, Horowitz speaks Chinese and has assisted during other visits from Chinese delegations. He again served as project manager/guide/translator for the Chinese group.

For Executive Vice President and Provost Donald Nieman, one of the key players in establishing the partnership, it is important for the visiting Chinese students to participate in activities beyond the University’s borders and to let parents know they will be sending their children somewhere “safe and inviting.”

“We wanted to give the group a sense of Binghamton as a community,” he said. “Going to the high school gave them a view of peer culture in the community.”

Nieman explained that the campus visit and online courses the Zhenjiang students will take have been carefully designed to prepare them for success once they matriculate at Binghamton. “We want to create a truly interactive program that engages these students,” he said. “We’re also creating a rich distance-learning environment that builds on the in-person experience the students have during their campus visit.”

President Harvey Stenger, Vice Provost for International Education Katharine Krebs and Professor Zu Yan Chen had their own first-hand look took at the ZIS program when they took a high speed train to Zhenjiang, a city of 3 million on the Yangtze River that is booming with growth in April. While at ZIS, Stenger met with the first four students who will become Binghamton undergraduates this fall.

By the fall of 2014, 25 Zhenjiang students could be attending Binghamton University, Nieman said. The long-term goal is to add at least 25 new Zhenjiang students each year – students who would have the necessary language skills needed to “navigate” the University.

The ZIS-Harpur partnership will help create an even more international campus, Nieman said. “Universities that are able to internationalize will provide students with an education that prepares them for life and work in a global economy,” he said. “This is a part of that mission: internationalize the campus, but in a way that is consistent with Binghamton’s high academic standards while recruiting students who are right for Binghamton University and feel good about Binghamton University.”

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