Establishing Partnerships with East Asian Schools
On a brisk day in February, 30 high school students from China arrived on the CSU, Chico campus accompanied by nine school administrators and teachers. Their enthusiasm and eager curiosity was expressed in bouts of excited chatter and giggles.
The students were from Number 2 Foreign Language School in Taiyuan City, one of the best high schools in Shanxi Province. As part of a U.S. university tour, they were on campus to discover what CSU, Chico offers in terms of programs, facilities, and the learning environment. Their itinerary was packed and included a tour of campus and Chico, admissions presentations, lunch at Sutter Dining, presentations by business and engineering departments, and several class visits. “This visit is the first step in our effort to set up a network of high-quality feeder schools in China for Chico State,” says Frank Li, CSU, Chico’s Office of International Education director.
A second group of 13 high school students, accompanied by the director of international affairs and a teacher, arrived a week later, also from Taiyuan City. They were on campus for a shorter time, receiving a general introduction from the Admissions Office and a tour of campus, followed by lunch at Sutter Dining.
These spring semester visits resulted from an October 2012 trip that President Paul Zingg and Li took to China, Korea, and Japan. They were accompanied by Mike Ward, dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management; Julie Indvik, dean of the College of Business; and Yasuko Zingg, the president’s wife. During their trip, they visited a number of universities and colleges, and a senior high school in Beijing.
“We were so impressed with the curriculum and the quality of the students at that high school that we started looking into the possibility of establishing bilateral relationships with high schools in China,” says Li.
The list of partnerships that were reaffirmed or established during the East Asia trip is long. The trip resulted in, among others, a bilateral relationship with Beijing Jiao Tong University and a good prospect to expand our current program with Shanghai University.
“International students should remind us that a public university is not just a state or local asset,” says Zingg. “It is a national asset with a global reach.
“As our Diversity Action Plan emphasizes, these students make important contributions to the vitality and quality of our campus, increasing global awareness and understanding among our domestic students, enabling them to be better prepared for the global marketplace of the 21st century; building relationships and friendships that will enrich and benefit them throughout their lives; and contributing to the ability of businesses, locally and nationally, to upgrade and diversify their talent pools.”
Korean Teachers: Part of the ‘Chico Family’
The ability to speak English is indispensable to many South Koreans, and English language instruction is a major part of the public and private school systems. Advertisements for English programs are practically on every street corner in South Korea. Yet in Chungcheongbuk Province, only one program is famous, and it’s not even known as a program. It’s called “The Chico Family.”
Since 1988, about 1,000 teachers from the mountainous center of South Korea have traveled to Chico for one month to immerse themselves in American language and culture. In January, 36 teachers were hosted in what was the program’s 25th anniversary year.
“The teachers in the first year of the program called it the Chico Family program rather than the initial name, Korean English Teacher Summer Institute, because the teachers felt the staff treated them as family,” says education professor Charles Zartman, Center for Bilingual and Multicultural Studies director. “We are very pleased to have such a special relationship with the people of Chungcheongbuk Province.”
While the teachers spend weekday mornings in classes and most afternoons with English tutors, evenings and weekends are spent with staff and host families. Many local residents host Korean teachers year after year.
In 1990, the program was named the outstanding professional development program in education for all of the Republic of Korea. Konkuk University, which has a campus in Chungcheongbuk Province, began a similar English training program at CSU, Chico in 2010.
(BA, Information and Communication Studies, ’80) illustrated the New Yorker’s 2012 election cover.
(BA, Chemistry, ’71) is helping design Disney’s newest theme park in Shanghai.
(BA, Communication Design, ’92) runs The Sustainable Kitchen, a cooking school/farm tour program.