Niagara University’s Office of International Relations and Brennan Center hosted 48 visiting faculty and students from China this summer as part of three different academic programs.
Faculty from the Shanghai Institute of Technology, the Shanghai Lixin School of Accounting, and the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law participated in on-campus and off-site activities designed to develop their leadership and teaching skills through the center’s International Executive Development Program. The group attended seminars presented by Niagara University faculty and staff and visited local attractions including Becker Farms, Six Flags Darien Lake theme park, the Maid of the Mist, and the Cave of the Winds. Attending a Bisons baseball game, whitewater rafting at Letchworth State Park, shopping at local malls, and eating Western New York favorites like chicken wings and beef on weck rounded out their cultural experience. The group also enjoyed a backyard barbeque at the home of Dr. Deborah Curtis, vice president of International Relations and the Brennan Center.
Students from the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law and the Chinese University of Petroleum participated in a business camp, where they learned best practices and topics that they could apply to their own organizations. Through lectures by Niagara faculty and visits to local companies, including Ingram Micro, a distributor of information technology products, and Silipos, a medical supply store, the group gained firsthand knowledge about the way American corporations do business.
The students also attended the university’s NUOP poster presentation and completed a project on the business of tourism, where they gave a five-minute presentation demonstrating how they could utilize some of the concepts they learned to improve, increase, or make tourism more profitable in their hometowns.
“These group presentations gave the students an opportunity to speak in front of others and to practice their English and presentation skills,” said Dr. Curtis.
Finally, students from Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine learned more about U.S. healthcare while receiving lessons to improve their English language skills. The group toured the Buffalo Niagara Medical campus, area hospitals, and Niagara University’s Nursing Simulation Center, a state-of-the-art facility that provides hands-on opportunities for students to manage patient encounters and skills in a risk-free, virtual reality environment. They also attended lectures, including “Advances in Precision Medicine” at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, where they heard from Dr. David Spetzler, president and chief scientific officer with Caris Life Sciences.
While on campus, the faculty members stayed in the university’s Varsity Village, while the students found a temporary home in Seton Hall. Metz Culinary Management provided the food during their stay.
Dr. Curtis noted that hosting the diverse group of students and faculty was “truly a team effort” on the part of the entire Niagara University community. Martin Gong, a former exchange student from Shanghai and NU MBA alum who works in the international relations office/Brennan Center, coordinated a number of activities for the visitors, and Tom Burns, associate vice president for public, external, and government relations, arranged for the group to receive tickets to the Bisons game. In addition, faculty, staff, and the university’s Center for Conferences and Events all played a vital part in welcoming the visitors to Monteagle Ridge.
“The students from China are absolutely amazing,” said Anthony Stevenson, a NUOP student from Lockport, N.Y. “They are kind-hearted, friendly, charismatic, and great people to be around. It was a pleasure meeting them and being able to join in on traditional games from China and breaking through language barriers.”
The NU connection with the Chinese students will continue after they leave campus. Dr. Amanda Barbour, assistant director for English Language Development in the Brennan Center, and center lecturer Aimee McCrady will accompany the Guangxi group to Nanning, China, to teach another ESL-intensive course there.