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Chinese students bring another perspective to Brenau campus
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A student in the “2+2” program holds a Brenau University tiger that was given to her in a gift bag Thursday during an information session in the College of Education at Brenau. During the session, students met some of their professors, instructors and other staff members the Chinese students will likely see around campus. - photo by Erin O. Smith

The environment in Gainesville is “great,” Crystal volunteered. The dining hall is a favorite place — but at least one student didn’t much care for American food. Everything is “open” — no wall around the university.

The first group of Chinese students to come to Brenau University for the “2+2” program — bringing juniors here from China for their final two years of college — arrived Aug. 19-20.

The first group of students is all majoring in early childhood education. Later groups are expected to be nursing and English students.

The students followed a whirlwind schedule their first week here.

“There’s so much information we need them to know before classes start,” Jordan Anderson, Brenau’s director of international students and programs, said Thursday. Classes start Monday.

The students needed to know a myriad of details — small and large. They needed to know how to find their way around the campus — find the aforementioned dining hall, meet professors, how to cross streets and operate a washer and dryer.

Eighteen students are at Brenau as the program gets under way. The university has been preparing for the students for about two years, and the creation of the program dates back more than a decade.

Brenau President Ed Schrader met a former dean at a Chinese university when he was at Shorter College. That led to meetings with officials at Anhui University and the program.

Brenau professors and instructors have gone to China, usually two at a time for a semester, for about 18 months, Anderson said. She said having teachers in China “was very purposeful to get them to know us before they get here.”

Brenau also formed a group of student ambassadors, who took a course in Chinese culture and made a trip to China in May. They will help the Chinese students navigate American customs while they are here.

In an early meeting, Aug. 16, Anderson mentioned a birthday for one student and the cake for dessert. She recognized the cake was “very, very sweet by your standards.”

Shengzhi Deng, “Harry,” was unimpressed with American food, shaking his head at the difficulty of describing his distaste. He indicated he missed Chinese food.

“The ways that Americans eat are very different than the way you eat,” Anderson told the group at its Tuesday meeting.

Yi Wang, “Crystal,” pronounced the dining hall “awesome” and said people were “polite and warmhearted.” She said the “environment here is great.” The sky is blue and the air fresh, she declared.

Xinyl Wang, “Lisa,” also commented about the pleasant environment.

The students got to know acquaintances and instructors in the College of Education at a Thursday session. Each introduced herself.

Zhengyun Lu, “Lynn,” said she wants to teach kindergarten. She would not be a lot bigger than some of her students.

Ling Hu, “Becky,” pronounced herself to be “full of questions” and proceeded to ask a series of them. She also said, “Every day here, every day in my life is interesting.”

Anderson held up a small item during the Tuesday session and asked what it was. A push pin.

She explained it is pushed into the wall and it is a pin. The pins are used to hold things on a wall or bulletin board.

They can be found at Wal-Mart. “I know it is a little overwhelming because it is a gigantic store,” she said.

Anderson told the students the exchange program with Anhui University is “a really big deal” at Brenau. She said the school would have a larger group of Chinese students than it has ever had after a couple of years.

Brenau officials hope to “get your perspective,” she told them. They can offer Brenau students “a lot of insight into a different way of thinking, and we think we can do the same for you.”

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