Report from China

President Robin Baker returned to China in May to again make connections with graduate universities, expand the presence of George Fox University at Chinese high schools, and strengthen relationships with parents of current George Fox students. Joining him were Linda Samek, dean of the School of Education; Jeff VandenHoek, who represented the School of Business; and Thomas Peng, director of the university's China and East Asia Studies Program.

After crossing 15 time zones and arriving in Beijing on Saturday, May 9, the group attended church on Sunday, with stops along the way to walk through the gardens that surround the Forbidden City and Tiannamen Square. They later toured the Temple of Heaven, the Olympic stadium known as the Bird's Nest, and the Emperors’ Summer Palace.

Later in the week, it was on to Chongqing in far western China, an area that is home to than 32 million people. There, the group met with two institutions – one a high school and the other a university – to discuss possible student and faculty exchanges. They met with five officials at Chongqing University of Science and Technology and had discussions about a possible 2 + 2 program for undergraduate students, along with extensive conversations about teacher education and how our program might provide additional American experiences for Chinese teachers in the area. The stay also included a visit to Chongqing High School to explore the possibility of high school students from there coming to George Fox.

The George Fox group also met with Yue Yong, director of international cooperation and exchanges for the Ministry of Education in Chongqing, and with Chen De Hua, dean of the School of Education at Chongqing College of Education. The visit also included a stop at Chongqing No. 11 middle school (the Chinese term for high school) and a meeting with the school's headmaster and principal.

Later in the trip, the George Fox contingent met with officials at Tongi University in Shanghai, a national university that carries an excellent reputation in business, engineering, architecture and many other fields, and at Shanghai Normal University, one of the more significant teacher’s colleges in the region. The trip concluded with a visit to Suzhou, famous for its traditional Chinese gardens.

President Baker shared three observations about the trip:

  • "Every time I travel out of the United States I am reminded of the difficult challenges we face in overcoming the barriers of language and culture in order to communicate with others more effectively."
  • "It is a rare occasion that I have been treated poorly in China. People want our experience to be positive and they work hard trying to make it so."
  • "Chinese people know how to host others. People volunteered their time to pick us up at airport, jump in and translate, and provide meals and conversations frequently."

Last year, more than 60 undergraduate students from China attended George Fox through the university's China and East Asia Studies Program. That number is expected to increase in subsequent years. At the graduate level, the School of Business has established a goal of bringing 10 to 12 Chinese students to Oregon this fall to enroll in the full-time MBA program. Ultimately, the goal is for international enrollment in the program to comprise up to 50 percent of the total enrollment, VandenHoek said.

Samek said the School of Education's first task is to facilitate a three- to four-week exchange of K-12 teachers and SOE faculty. The secondary goal would be to offer collaborative Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programs for Chinese teachers and college faculty.