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From China to CAC

Building Friendships and Learning About American Culture

Alissa Chavez, Cactus Contributor

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Every semester, foreign exchange students from around the globe come to CAC. This year has not been an exception as we welcomed four students from Northeastern University in Shenyang, China.

It seems like a long way to travel from China all the way to Arizona, but you may be even more surprised to hear that since 2003, CAC has hosted fifteen students and six Chinese professors while sending many CAC students and professors to Shenyang as part of the agreement with Northeastern University.

Students who come from China often adopt American names, and thus Jiayo Li becomes Ronan, Qianhui Zhang goes by Kathy, Jin Wei wants everyone to call her Joy, and Yanming Jiang is now Kristina.

Kathy, Joy, and I are all taking English 101 together, and I had the opportunity to learn more about them.  I know that for Thanksgiving break, they traveled to the east coast to Washington D.C. and New York.  I know that they long for the end of this semester like most of us because they’ll get to travel to San Francisco and Los Angeles to shop for gifts for their family and friends, before returning home by the New Year.

When asked about what she’s most excited about when going back home, Kathy’s answer was, “Food. I miss my family and friends a lot, and I always want to eat Chinese food instead of American food. It gets lonely here, because I don’t have too many friends to talk or go out with.”

Although there are three other students from China, you will often see Kathy around campus with Joy who explains, “We were friends before coming to America because we are classmates and got to know each other, but this trip and experience has definitely made our bond stronger.”

It is such a beautiful benefit of this experience! Not only are the students getting an education, but they are creating life-long friendships that they will never forget. In addition to that, Joy and Kathy believe this study abroad experience will broaden their understanding of western culture and help them develop their English skills which will ultimately benefit their future endeavors.

Though the process of participating in a travel abroad program seems absolutely draining, Kathy says it wasn’t too difficult. Their school typically had two openings for English major students to come to CAC, and this was the first year they allowed four. Ultimately, everything depended on their grades, and the professors went from there.

For Kathy, Joy, Ronan, and Kristina, this will be an unforgettable semester, and CAC students can have a similar experience if they choose to participate in various international study opportunities offered by our college.

Unfortunately, China is off the table as this is the last year of this particular exchange program, but CAC students can go to Ireland over spring break of 2018, Mexico in summer of 2018, Hawaii over spring break of 2019, and even take trips to France and Italy.  Just go to centralaz.edu/current-students/international-studies/ to learn more about each of these opportunities.

Meanwhile, I want to wish Kathy, Joy, Ronan, and Kristina safe travels home.  Maybe we will see them at CAC again someday.

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