Morehead State University’s Office of International Education will open an American Center at Guangxi University in Nanning, China.
James Masterson, the project director and the director of international education, secured a $75,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State to provide programming to educate Chinese students at Guangxi University about American culture and address common myths and misperceptions that Chinese students may hold.
“The American Center will allow Morehead State to further several initiatives simultaneously. Through the grant, we will be able to continue to provide world-class education to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, only this time, in the Zhuang Minority region that is located in Guangxi Province,” Masterson said.
“To do this the American Center will directly support our efforts to promote overseas teaching and scholarship experiences for our faculty. Through the Center, we will be able to expose more faculty members to the overseas experience that would otherwise not have the opportunity. Lastly, through outreach efforts by visiting faculty fellows, it will expose our university’s programs more effectively in southern China to potential in-coming international students from the region.”
The program started with the establishment of one center in Sichuan Province by Arizona State University in 2010. The next year, the U.S. Department of State funded 10 more centers. The Ohio State University, University of Chicago, Vanderbilt University and the University of Kentucky are four of the universities funded in 2011. This year, MSU joins six other institutions in creating a new wave of American Centers in China. MSU will have the only American Center in Guangxi Zhuang Semi-Autonomous Region.
MSU has had an on-going relationship with Guangxi University for more than a decade. More than 30 visiting scholars from Guangxi have come to MSU’s campus and 14 undergraduate and graduate students have taken classes here in the past year.
In the summer of 2011, Masterson and John Ernst led a group of eight MSU students on a study abroad program to Guangxi University.
“We traveled with eight students to Guangxi University and enjoyed a rich, rewarding experience both academically and socially. The faculty and students of Guangxi University welcomed us with open arms,” said Ernst, executive assistant to the president and professor of history.
Through the work of the American Center it will help expose more MSU students to the region as well.
“I think it will create wonderful opportunities for our students and faculty to get to know our partners at Guangxi University,” said Philip Krummrich, chair of the Department of International and Interdisciplinary Studies.
This year, MSU’s China Summer Study Abroad program will visit the Center after studying in the north at Tianjin Normal University.
The American Center will provide programs of multi-disciplinary content. Faculty from each of the four colleges will deliver programs through the use of film, music and traditional lecture. Additionally, the Center will be comprised of a reading room where Chinese students can access a collection of books in English. A computer lab where students can receive ESL instruction and access other software that provides activities on American history and culture will be located in the reading room.
Masterson submitted the grant proposal to the Department of State in August and the project was awarded funding in September and will be in operation for one year under the grant.
“We will certainly work hard to find creative and innovative ways to sustain the American Center after the grant expires. This is a long-term project that will be an integral part of the long-term planning of the Office of International Education,” said Masterson.