CCI students embark on trip to China

Natalie Bittel

Nineteen students from Kent State University, 17 from the College of Communication and Information and two from the College of Arts and Sciences, are exploring Chengdu, China for two weeks as part of a cultural exchange program at Sichuan University.

According to the group’s blog, CCI In Chengdu, two of the students on the trip are foreign exchange students of Kent State: Amrita Datta from India and Samyak Moktan from Nepal.

“The thought of traveling to any foreign land recharges my spirit and the very idea of immersing in a culture different than mine excites me,” Moktan wrote on the blog.

For some of the students traveling, this is their first experience outside of the United States.

For others, it is a returning trip overseas, but their first visit to Asia. And for a few, it is a visit to the continent that is their home.

Alongside the 20 students embarking on this journey is Stephanie Smith, Kent State assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

On the blog, Smith said what excited her most about the experience is “the chance to meet and work with a whole new group of students at Sichuan University,” she said. “I feel so privileged to be able to teach two courses there this summer.”

Smith has been teaching PR to 200 students from Sichuan University, four hours a day, four days a week.

On the blog, Smith questioned how difficult it would be to communicate with others in a foreign country.

“How could I overcome language and cultural barriers to engender the engaged, participative dynamic I like to foster in the classroom,” she said. “ The answer, oddly enough, was found in T-shirts.”

Smith used the method of a T-shirt contest to engage with her new students and allow them to interact with each other as well.

Beyond the learning happening in the classroom, Smith said that she has learned a lot from this experience herself.

“My first week in a Chinese classroom left me feeling renewed as a teacher: slow down, observe the class and look for cultural common ground,” she said.

The emotions that Smith and the Kent State students have shared about their experience on this trip are nothing short of positivity and excitement.

One student, Gabrielle Woodard, said that “being in China is an amazing opportunity to be immersed into another culture and learn about the world.”

On the group’s blog numerous references refer to the  trip being “amazing.”

One student, Michael Gallagher II, described Chengdu: “What makes the city even cooler is the fact that many of the buildings have amazing lights that go around the structure,” he said. “This gives an amazing energy to the city that is uniquely Sichuan. I look forward to have more adventures throughout my time here in Chengdu.”

Smith also expressed that the city of Chengdu itself is one of the things she finds most remarkable about her experience in China.

“Chengdu is a gorgeous city.  It is a city of lush landscapes and vibrant colors. Chengdu is considered by many in China to be a resort because of its good air quality, beautiful vistas and peaceful lifestyle, she said. “ In Chengdu, you will find a completely diverse landscape, including gorgeous parks, peaceful temples and busy shopping districts.”

This cultural exchange offered through Kent State has had an impact on all the students traveling to Chengdu.

As student Joseph Young wrote on the blog, “We’re all creatures of our environment; therefore, wherever we go becomes a piece of us.”

Contact Natalie Bittel at [email protected].