4-week program in China offered in May 2019

Madelyn Loellke, Contributing Writer

Students now have the chance to participate in a four-week program in May 2019 to earn 3-6 credits by studying abroad at the Dalian Polytechnic University in Dalian, China.

Last year, Eastern hosted a guest professor, Yan Yu, from the English Department of Dalian Polytechnic University and since then English professor Randall Beebe began a conversation of how to better connect the two schools in a mutually supportive program.

Now, after a year of development, Beebe, Yu and English professor Melissa Caldwell created the four-week program.“When we first started talking about it, we saw it as two levels; where we could teach some of their students, and they could teach ours, whether it was an online format, student exchanges, and maybe webinars between faculty,” Beebe said. “We discovered that Dalian and Eastern, despite how far apart we are geographically, are actually very close, in what we teach and what we face.”

Beebe said he describes the study abroad program as getting to meet with Eastern instructors for daily discussions, observing courses at DPU, taking an introduction to Mandarin course and having Eastern students teach English or topics in the language to Chinese students at the university and/or pre-school level.

While originally drafted with English education in mind, they have quickly expanded it to a variety of other course options.

In addition to this, Eastern’s School of Technology has a formal partnership with DPU after working with them for a few years, and they are working to grow opportunities in all of the departments on campus.

DPU has been very excited for the trip as well, Beebe said.

“They want their students to get as much exposure to native English speakers as possible, so they are just thrilled students want to go there and to share their city,” Beebe said.

For Eastern students, the Department of Study Abroad has over 583 study abroad options.

Caldwell and Beebe have distinguished this program from the others in that it opens a direct door to job opportunities for Eastern students as both an English instructor or worker on DPU’s campus and the companies in the city.“This could be an excellent option for students trying to find out ‘what do I do next?’” Beebe said.

Like all study abroad options, Caldwell said, this global partnership offers an enriching experience.

“The most important thing is that EIU students seriously consider making study abroad—any study abroad—a part of their undergraduate experience. Traveling will never be easier or cheaper than when you are in college,” Caldwell said. “I have heard a lot of students say to me, ‘if I don’t go to China now, I probably never will,’ and I think that ‘seize the day’ mentality is exactly the right attitude to have when approaching the opportunity of study abroad.”

Caldwell said they think study abroad programs like this one have the potential to provide students with a new worldview.

“It’s also my hope that new study abroad programs like this one send a clear message to prospective students that the kind of learning we value here at EIU is student-centered and forward-looking,” Caldwell said. “Cultural and educational exchanges like the partnership EIU is developing with DPU are absolutely going to be a necessary and standard part of undergraduate education in the 21st century.”

Madelyn Loellke can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].