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August  25, 2010

80 Augustana students to study in Japan, Taiwan and China

Five Augustana faculty and 80 students will spend the fall term of 2010 living and learning in East Asia. The term is one of the longest running international programs at the college; nearly 1,000 students have participated in the 12-week program since it began in 1974. The faculty-led term includes traveling to the culturally diverse countries of Japan, Taiwan and China (including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) and concluding in Hawaii.  

"These students will see for themselves the dynamic growth of the Chinese economy, now number two in the world, and its rapidly modernizing cities and lifestyles even as the culture highlights its history and uses its traditions," said Dr. Norman Moline, one of the East Asia term founders and term co-director. "Many students experience the need for learning more Japanese or Chinese language if their future jobs in any way might be linked to these cultures. Also, as we are exposed to these different cultures and reflect on contrasts and similarities with our own, we learn more about ourselves."

            Students started preparing for the term last spring with a seminar class and are now taking three or four additional courses, including Japanese Art, East Asian Markets, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Population Problems. These classes involve reading, lectures and field experiences at different sites relevant to the coursework, such as the Japanese Embassy, Hiroshima, Tiananmen Square, Great Wall of China and Chengdu, one of China's largest and most densely populated provinces, and home to the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding. The group will meet with Augustana alumni Dr. Sarah Bexell '91 and Phillip Hoffmann '73. Bexell, originally from Freeport, Ill., is director of conservation education and communications at Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding, and Hoffmann, a Peoria, Ill. native, is the minister-counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

Term co-director Dr. Marsha Smith says although students face the challenge of studying and living in a country where they can't speak the language, she is excited about the opportunities the experience offers them. "I hope they not only learn but realize that there are a lot of differences between places," said Smith. "Many people tend to lump all of Asia together, but really each aspect of Asia has its own unique culture and language."

 Moline says Augustana's term trips through the years have created lasting relationships with the people of China.

"Some of our special program features stem from the fact that Augustana's 1977 fall term group was the first one from any American college or university admitted into China after its 'doors were open', which is important because Chinese people appreciate and make good things happen for 'old friends'," said Moline.

Dr. Ann Ericson of business administration, Dr. Naoko Gunji of art history and Dr. Robert Tallitsch of biology also will accompany Moline and Smith on the trip. The students return November 10.

Sam Schlouch
Director, Public Relations and Arts Promotion
(309) 794-7833
samschlouch@augustana.edu