Ohlone Students Visit China, June 2006 - Multicultural and International Programs
A major milestone in developing international education partnerships with Chinese universities was reached in June 2006 when a group of Ohlone students visited China to meet with university officials, form bonds with Chinese students, and learn more about the country, the culture, the history, and the economy of China. The group included students, faculty, and administrators of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds that attracted lots of attention from Chinese people unused to seeing so much diversity within one traveling group.
The students traveled to Shanghai first and met with representatives from the Shanghai Theatre and Dance Academy. Two Chinese students attending the school were assigned as hosts to our students.
In addition to observing classes in the theatre and vocal performance departments, the group was privileged to observe several dance classes that included traditional Korean folk dances, modern Chinese dance, and classical ballet. The college is planning to bring dancers to Ohlone next fall to perform in the Smith Center.
The Shanghai group asked one of our Indian students to perform something traditional from their culture and Hetta Desai performed on the spur of the moment, dancing and singing to accompany herself. This was one of many spontaneous cultural exchanges that took place during the trip. We found there were strong desires on both sides of the language divide to share and interact with each other.
Another exciting part of the trip was the rare opportunity to visit in the private home of a Chinese family. They entertained the group for hours while we participated in the celebration of a national holiday, the Dragon Boat Festival. The parents and their daughter, a very savvy, westernized high school senior who earnestly wants to attend college in the United States, fed the group traditional Chinese treats, offered gifts and made fast friends with our students.
The Chinese students hosting our group escorted the Ohlone students to visit a museum, restaurants, both Chinese and American, on tours of the two campuses, and to several shopping districts in the city. By the time we departed from Shanghai the Chinese students and the Ohlone students had formed very close friendships.
The group also visited the university at Hongzhou, Taizhou, and the Peking University in Beijing, the top university in the country. The rest of the trip contained more expressions of gratitude, more examples of sharing, and development of more understanding as we met with more students and faculty, saw more of the countryside and learned more of the Chinese culture and history.
The trip was a challenging experience for American students who are used to certain living standards, as they experienced first-hand how much less their Chinese counterparts have in the way of accommodations and cleanliness. Yet many of the Ohlone students acknowledged that they never could have grasped the magnitude of the differences as well as the similarities between the two cultures and ways of life without living through this experience. The students also acknowledged that the events of the trip and the relationships they formed would change their thinking, their choices, and their actions for the rest of their lives in ways they could not have anticipated.