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A Semester in China

On Thursday, April 16, Tan Ngoc Duy Le, Class of 2010, from Vietnam gave a presentation on his one-semester study-abroad experience in China.  The presentation was sponsored by the Hampden-Sydney International Club, and it was held at the Parents & Friends Lounge.  About 30 people attended.

Tan Le studied in Beijing, China, during the fall semester of the 2008-2009 academic year under the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES).  IES’s main goals are to provide students with intensive language training and opportunities to study contemporary issues in China.  One intensive Chinese course under IES is equivalent to three semesters of Chinese at an American university or college.  Also, IES provides students with area studies courses in art, economics, film, government, history, international business, literature, management, the media, philosophy, sociology as well as internships.  All of these area studies courses are taught in Chinese.

In addition to the intensive academic courses, special features of the IES program are housing, the language-use requirement, and field trips.  Students are housed either with a Chinese host family or with a Chinese roommate.  Students must speak Chinese all the time while in the IES building.  According to Tan, IES’s housing and language requirement helped him in a short period efficiently to learn the Chinese language and about Chinese culture .

The most exciting parts of the IES program are the field trips, including a two-week-long trip and several weekend excursions.  In Beijing, Tan visited many famous tourist sites such as the “Bird Nest” stadium, the Water Cube, the Great Wall, Tian An Men Square, the Forbidden City (right), and Mao Zedong’s Mausoleum.

He also traveled to Shanghai.  There he met Professor Guo, who taught at Hampden-Sydney during the 2007-2008 academic year, and Ryan Eu ’10 (left in picture), who was studying abroad in Shanghai.

For the two-week trip, Tan traveled along the famous Silk Road.  Along the way, he visited the Terra Cotta Warriors site in Xi An (left),  Qinghai Lake in Qinghai, and Dunhuang City in Gansu.  He also visited the Flaming Mountains and Kanas Lake in Xinjiang.  In Xinjiang, Tan played soccer with the local children.  His two-week trip ended in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang.

Tan stated that study abroad in China was a life changing experience due to the language exposure, cultural learning, travel, friendship, and career opportunities. During his stay in China, he also was able to make friends with Chinese and non-Chinese people.  At the conclusion of his presentation, he encouraged every Hampden-Sydney student to take the opportunity to study abroad.

Tan’s presentation inspired both American and international students. One of them was Tian Shihao, Class of 2012, from China.  Tian said that after hearing Tan’s experience, he had decided to travel around more of his own country this summer.

Hampden-Sydney is well-known for its study-abroad programs which cover over 100 programs in 25 countries.  These international programs expose Hampden-Sydney students to other parts of the world and help students to learn about diverse international cultures and to become true global citizens.

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