New art course to send students to China

Graphic+by+Allison+Struck.

Graphic by Allison Struck.

Brittany Nader

Students from all majors have the opportunity to spend spring break in China as part of a travel-study art course next semester.

The course, Travel-Study in the Arts: Experience the Arts and Culture of China, will be offered for the first time in Spring 2012. Juniors, seniors and graduate students can register this semester.

The trip to China is estimated to cost $995 per student and includes ground transportation, lodging, meals and tour activities, but excludes airfare. Students will spend 12 days in China from March 16—27, said Koon-Hwee Kan, associate professor of art. There is no course fee.

“The mission of this course is to broaden the horizons of KSU participants by embracing diversity at the global level in preparation for becoming global citizens,” Kan said.

The first 10 weeks of the semester will be spent preparing for the trip by communicating with Chinese students through videoconferences, Kan said. Students from universities in China will host Kent State students when they arrive.

“The pre-travel videoconferences will prepare all participants, regardless of major, and help them develop a mindset for inter-global collaboration, partnership and intercultural communication,” Kan said.

Kan said she hopes at least 10 to 15 undergraduates and 10 graduate students will sign up for the course. She said the trip will be a good experience for students to earn three credits.

“(Art students) can also learn from non-art majors and vice versa,” Kan said. “We (already) have someone from computer science, theatre studies and, hopefully, more from the Honors College will enroll. There will be something for everyone for sure.”

Students will also complete projects tailored to their majors prior to traveling, Kan said. They can create small-scale works using different materials, write a review of Chinese architecture or collect regularly used material items from China to report on.

“I hope this course can offer a great opportunity for KSU students to engage in collaborative learning with their international partners — the Chinese college students,” Kan said. “(This) will definitely become a highlight in all the participating students’ resumes when they go job searching in the future.”

Rae Li, senior accounting major, is currently studying abroad in Geneva, Switzerland. She said she is interested in studying abroad elsewhere for spring break but feels 12 days is not long enough to spend in China.

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“I don’t know a lot about China’s art, but I learned Chinese traditional painting when I was in kindergarten,” Li said. “I would like to learn more. Giving up learning Chinese traditional painting is one of the pities in my life.”

Li, who was born in Beijing, said traveling to China could benefit other students by teaching them about the country’s culture and seeing the traditional art firsthand.

“After you learn the theory and history about China’s art, you will get a chance to actually go there,” Li said. “That helps the knowledge you learned before make sense (and) makes you be more interested in it and willing to learn more about it.”

Angelina Quan, senior finance major, said she was born in China and encourages students who have not studied outside of their home country to enroll in courses like the travel-study.

“If a non-native speaker goes to China, not only (will) they study arts but also culture, language and history as well,” Quan said. “It will eventually make people more grown up and open their mind. The point is we don’t live alone in this world, so it’s quite important to realize world situations for (us) as human beings.”

Brittany Macchiarola, Kent State alumna, said she traveled to China during Spring 2011 with journalism and mass communication students in her International Storytelling Shanghai class.

“Traveling internationally was all I’d been obsessing over, so when I heard there was a class going to China, I thought it sounded like a really exciting opportunity,” Macchiarola said. “I would’ve loved to stay longer. There was so much I wanted to do; so much I wanted to experience.”

Kan said students in the travel-study course will visit Chinese landmarks such as Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall of China, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Center buildings and various temples and museums in Beijing and Xi’an. Students will also participate in art critiques and a Tai Chi class.

When students return from China, there will be a final exhibition of their work in the Music and Speech Center and on the Kent Stark campus. Kan said she plans to offer the course again in future semesters.

“A regular bi-annual trip will strengthen the tie and partnership with the Chinese universities we establish,” Kan said. “I have confidence that it will become one of a kind — an attraction for the KSU College of the Arts in the future.”

Students interested in signing up for the travel-study course can contact Dr. Kan at [email protected]

Contact Brittany Nader at [email protected].