Chinese group explores American life on the Mississippi

Visiting teachers from China aboard the La Crosse Queen getting ready to cruise.

Visiting teachers from China take a ride on the La Crosse Queen. From left back, KunXian Zhao and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages graduate Jacob Krueger. Left front, Zhiliang Wang, YuanYuan Sun, HuiYing Guo, Chen Yujing and Li Yongwei.

Six teachers from China are learning American culture via Norskedalen, Loggers games, the beautiful Mississippi and the Mall of America.

The UW-L Office of International Education is providing language and cultural programming for the group from Hebei Province in China, July 8-29.

A visit from China is not rare at UW-L. Chinese students make up one of the largest international populations, coming through exchange partnerships with the university or enrolling directly. UW-L has 30 exchange partnerships with China. A total of 110 students from China are currently enrolled after May’s graduation.

High Chinese student numbers reflect the value put on an American diploma in China and the universality of the English language in global markets, says Sandra Sieber, assistant director of the UW-L Office of International Education.

“Usually parents of our Chinese students look at the American diploma as very prestigious,” she says.

The Chinese teachers say they are interested in learning American teaching strategies in addition to culture and language.

“We can compare and see which is better …. It opens our minds,” says Chen Yujing, an English teacher from China.

By experiencing American life inside and outside the classroom they can return to teach American culture to their Chinese students with more than books, Yujing adds. They can learn about areas where America excels such as science and technology.

The types of jobs available, quality of living and working facilities, adherence to laws and personal development are areas where China can learn from the U.S., says Zhiliang Wang, another visiting teacher.

Such visits propel UW-L’s mission of educating in a diverse learning environment, notes Sieber. They are introducing new ideas and places to people. The partnership could also serve as a segue for students in Hebei Province to consider UW-L, she says.

The visiting teachers have expertise in Chinese language, English, math and physics. They attend American culture/English classes in the morning and participate in a variety of activities in the afternoons and evenings including local music, museums, cultural events and more.