Over the past several years, Western Oregon University has strengthened its ties with universities in other parts of the world through the exchange of students and visiting scholars. One of those universities is Xianda International College in Shanghai, China.
ZhangKe, who goes by Isabel as her English name, is the first visiting scholar from Xianda at WOU. An English instructor, Isabel has been teaching at WOU since March of this year. She will return to China in December, and plans to use much of what she learned at WOU to help her students at Xianda.
One of her goals is to establish a writing facility at Xianda, based on her experience with WOU’s Writing Center.
WOU not only exchanges faculty with Xianda, but students as well. During the 2011-12 academic year, WOU had eight students from the school. This year, WOU welcomed 24 students from Xianda in majors such as business, computer science, criminal justice, English and music.
Isabel was crucial in helping WOU’s International Office in accommodating the international students at WOU. There are a variety of issues that must be addressed when international students arrive on campus. These include housing, getting a mobile phone, setting up a bank account, transportation, finding local food sources, and much more. Isabel worked with the Xianda students to make sure that they had everything they needed to be successful in their transition to living in the United States. Once she returns to China, she plans to coordinate pre-arrival activities for students at Xianda before they come to WOU.
WOU plans to grow its relationship with Xianda by welcoming more students each year. The universities have a “three-plus-one program” for several degree programs, which means that the students attend their first three years of school in China and their final year at WOU.
Monmouth has been a good place for Xianda students. Its small size provides less distraction for the students, enabling them to concentrate on their studies. The town and campus also have a reputation for being very safe, something that is important to the students and their families.