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Fifteen students travel to China for new four-week program

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor
(217) 333-5491;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- For many Americans, learning to manipulate a pair of chopsticks at the local Chinese restaurant is often their first and last lesson in Chinese culture.

That won't be the case for 15 University of Illinois students, who will receive an intensive introduction to the country, its customs and culture this summer as participants in "Learning About China," a new, four-week study-abroad program organized by the UI's Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies.

Among the student participants are (EDITORS: See list.).

The program is funded by a two-year, $250,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation, which also supports the Freeman Fellows Program, an ongoing exchange that sends UI students and faculty members to China and brings Chinese humanities and social science scholars to the campus.

George Yu, director of the UI center, said the new program is intended primarily for students who have an interest in learning about China but no prior experience or familiarity with the country.

Students were selected to participate based on their academic record; interest level in China; leadership qualities, as demonstrated by extracurricular campus and community service activities; and a required essay.

"The program was designed to introduce the uninitiated -- mostly entering sophomores and juniors -- to give them direct exposure to China," Yu said. "It is an experiment to see if we can make the next generation of leaders conscious of what's going on in China."

The students will travel to China on May 19 and return June 19. Accompanying them for the monthlong seminar will be Kenneth Klinkner, a visiting professor of political science at the UI. He will supervise the structured classroom instruction for the group, which will be based at Fudan University in Shanghai. Local instructors will offer sessions on Chinese culture and society, while Klinkner will address contemporary Chinese politics. During their visit to Shanghai, the students will have an opportunity to meet with Chinese scholars who are former Freeman Fellows.

"Both programs will converge in Shanghai," Yu said, "as we hold a reunion of former Freeman Fellows and bring our students together with them for a three-day meeting."

In addition to the course work and other activities in China, student participants are expected to take part in at least one outreach activity -- such as writing a report for a hometown newspaper or making a presentation to a community group -- after returning to campus. Each participant is eligible for a full scholarship to cover travel and living expenses, and will receive academic credit for completing the program.


BOURBONNAIS -- Elizabeth Keigher

CHARLESTON -- Anne Gosselin

CHICAGO (57) -- Andrew Powers

FISHER -- Lindsay Wilson

HICKORY HILLS -- Ali Ammoura, Frances Tiu

HIGHLAND PARK -- Todd Kooperman

JOLIET -- Dyanna Gregory

MAYWOOD -- Weena Stokes

McLEANSBORO -- Kevin Woley

MOUNT PROSPECT -- Christopher Schumer, and Quan M. Tran

PALATINE -- Caryn Trombino, Zachary Shipp

WILMETTE -- Daliah Saper