Friday May 25, 2018

Student exchange gets friendlier

2012-01-12 11:09 Global Times     Web Editor: Yuan Hang comment

Chinese and overseas students may share the same dorm and have the same school arrangements in the future, according to the municipal Education Commission yesterday, who issued a 10-year plan aiming to improve Beijing's international education and exchanges.

Foreign students of all ages will be encouraged to join their school's student organization, normally for Chinese students only, have similar class schedules and content, and share a dorm with Chinese classmates, the plan reveals.

"All universities in Beijing and several primary and middle schools participating in the pilot programs will start making adjustments to their policies toward foreign students," said the commission's media officer Zhao Guowei, explaining that no details or timetable for the plan is available to the public yet.

There were over 90,000 foreign students from more than 184 countries studying at 81 Beijing universities and 95 primary and middle schools in 2011. The number of overseas students in Beijing will reach 180,000 by 2020, according to the commission's statistics.

"Sharing a dorm sounds nice. It'll give Chinese and foreign students more opportunities to communicate so that we can understand each other and our culture better," said Yvonne Gao, an American student at Communication University of China (CUC).

Many foreign students are willing to make friends with Chinese, she said, but language will be a big problem, and there may be problems living together, with different living habits developed in different cultures.

"I'd love to have a foreign roommate, but I'm afraid living with someone from a religious country or who doesn't speak Chinese at all could be difficult," said Wang Longyang, a student at CUC.

Currently, it is against the rules to mix Chinese and foreign students in the same dorms, said Ai Xing, who works in the management of foreign students at Beijing Normal University.

The school received the commission's notice last week but has not made any detailed plans in response, Ai said. The school has already begun putting foreign and Chinese students in the same class, except for those who major in Chinese, she said.

"I'd love to share a dorm with Chinese classmates. We don't have much chance to talk, [so] it's better the school has more activities involving Chinese and foreign students," said Yi Wang, a Nepali student from CUC.

The commission's plan also involves improving school services for foreign students, including offering better medical welfare, and assistance to those involved in accidents or emergencies.

Of Chaoyang district's 16 primary and middle schools that admit foreign students, only one has a mixed dorm, said an employee at Chaoyang district education commission who refused to be named.

"Some schools in Chaoyang have already prepared to apply to participate in the pilot programs, which could help improve communication among students from different cultures," she said, "However the program might see problems caused by culture shock."

"We used to have visiting foreign teachers in homestays at Chinese teachers' apartments. It didn't end well because we're so different," she said.

It's good to have a plan that mingles Chinese and foreign students, but schools should also respect students' own choices, said Chu Zhaohui, a researcher with the China National Institute for Educational Research.

"Foreign students shouldn't be treated like they're isolated from their Chinese schoolmates," he said, explaining that schools need more detailed plans and should not force foreigners to take the same curriculum as Chinese.


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