Scholarship program is making the grade
Beijing pays the way of thousands more US students in China
A scholarship program for US students studying in China will be extended for another four years.
The program, overseen by the Ministry of Education, will sponsor another 10,000 students under the Sino-US high-level consultation mechanism for cultural exchanges.
It was set up by the ministry in 2010 after US President Barack Obama announced his goal of sending 100,000 students to China.
There were 25,156 US students in China last year — 1,363 undergraduates, 1,351 graduate students and 22,442 non-degree students, according to the Ministry of Education.
Danielle Rang started studying Chinese at Peking University as an exchange student last year.
"I can communicate in Chinese, although not fluently. I hope that by the end of my year I will be able to speak the language fluently," said the 20-year-old, who arrived from New York.
Rang said she finds China's history immensely interesting and has enjoyed the culture and people she has met so much that she hopes to find a job that will put her Chinese to good use — such as translating — after completing her undergraduate degree in the US.
"If I cannot find a job, I would like to return to China to study Chinese at graduate school," she said.
Valentina Hernandez, a junior marketing and advertising student from the University of Miami, is studying at the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies at the University of International Business and Economics.
"As a marketing student, I believe it is crucial to understand China, its culture and its incredible potential. Every company that wants to thrive in the world market has to enter the Chinese market and adapt to their culture, values and needs to be successful. As a student in the 21st century, studying in China is no longer an option, it's a requirement," the 21-year-old said.
As she has never previously learned Chinese, Hernandez said she has started taking Chinese courses for beginners.
She is delighted with her experience in China. "I am learning so much every day from the people and their values. I admire their work ethic and the preservation of their history, cultural traditions and sense of family."
Zhang Xiuqin, director of the international cooperation and exchanges department at the Ministry of Education, said more than 68,000 US students have come to China since the "100,000 Strong" initiative was launched in Beijing in May 2010.
Zhang said the ministry attaches great importance to the initiative, and 620 colleges and institutions in China able to accept overseas students are open to US students under the initiative.
Vice-Premier Liu Yandong said at the 100,000 Strong Foundation's annual conference in Washington in November that more young US citizens studying under the initiative are seen on China's college campuses.
"Their progress amazes us," she said. "Together with their Chinese counterparts they form a fresh force dedicated to closer friendship between the two peoples."
Li Yong, director of the student affairs department with the School of International Education at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said about 100 US students study on its campus each year.
"The US students at our university have brought different visions, new ideas, advanced perceptions and creative thinking to our campuses."
The scholarship program that was just extended offered assistance to more than 11,700 students — well above the target of 10,000.
It is just one of the ways in which the education ministry and universities hope to attract more international students.
Other scholarships funded by individuals, enterprises and governments — which can cover half or even all of a student's expenses — are also open to overseas students.
Chen Weihua in Washington contributed to this story.
By ZHAO XINYING (China Daily)
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