05/27/05 -It's China or Bust! Northwest Georgia Educators to Spend June 2005 Studying in China
For 15 professors and teachers from Cherokee, Floyd, Bartow, Cobb, Fulton and Towns counties, June 2005 will be a month to savor and share. As the group studies their way across China on a Fulbright-Hays Seminar, they will examine the impact of a vast economic initiative, the Great Western Development Program, on the country's complex majority and minority groups. Each traveler will also conduct research from his or her unique perspective -- through art, culture, theatre and opera, or the media, to politics, higher education or economics.
After spending almost three years planning the seminar, Dr. Curtis G. Lindquist, the dean of arts and humanities at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Ga., is relieved that departure is imminent. "I am hopeful that all the seminar participants will find the experience to be as exciting and useful as I think it will be," he said. "I hope to experience matters emotionally, not simply intellectually. I hope to have direct conversations with Chinese people, as opposed to indirect conversations over the Internet. In China, as is the case in many areas around the world, business and learning is best done face to face, by people who have taken the time to get to know one another. On the 'pre-visit' trip I took to China in April, I began to get acquainted with many of the seminar leaders and contacts who will be crucial to the success of this trip. I am looking forward to returning and continuing to build these connections."
"I expect to learn constantly"
He doesn't need to worry about the participants being excited. A Reinhardt colleague, Kenneth H. Wheeler, expects to learn from the everyday experiences and structured activities. "I expect to learn constantly, not only from university lecturers, but also from street vendors, from train travel, from sights and smells," he said. "I intend to drink in everything that I can absorb."
The travelers are using technology, from digital camcorders and cameras to Ipods, MP3 players and PDAs, to help record their impressions.During the month-long study, participants will meet with Chinese scholars, government officials and members of various ethnic minority groups in China. They will traverse the vast country, from Beijing in the east, to Urumqi and Chengdu in the west, to Kunming in the southwest, then back to Shanghai. Approximately $65,000 of the trip costs is being funded by Fulbright-Hays Grant from the U.S. Department of Education; the remaining $48,000 in trip costs will be covered by the participants and their sponsoring organizations.
Expecting "off-the-beaten path" experiences
Reinhardt's Pamela Wilson expects that some of the trip's most exciting parts to be the "off-the-beaten path" experiences in more remote areas; she will share her experiences with family and friends via a web blog or blog. "Since our seminar topic focuses on China's minority ethnic groups --- China has 56 official minority groups, not unlike our American Indian tribes -- we have worked with our Chinese host universities to plan a trip that will allow us to visit a number of those distinct minority areas. The diversity of these areas will be very exciting, both geographically and culturally. We'll be going from Beijing, the huge capital city, to the far western reaches of China, where the people are primarily Muslim and speak Turkic languages. Then we will spend a week in Southwest China, in the foothills of the Himalayans, where dozens of different ethnic groups live in local villages with distinct customs and traditions."
The participants represent eight educational entities, from high schools to colleges and universities. The Reinhardt participants include: Elizabeth A. E. Garbrah-Aidoo, Jonathan Good, Donald Gregory, L. Michelle Harlow, Lindquist, Larry H. Webb, Wheeler and Wilson. Mary Louise Shell, a social studies teacher at Etowah High School, will represent Cherokee County schools. Other area participants include J. Bradley Adams, Berry College; Baogang Guo, Dalton State College; R. Bruce Jones, Floyd College; John M. Kniess, Young Harris College; Shirley Williams-Kirksey, Clark Atlanta University; and Patricia D. Smith, Cobb County schools.
Lindquist said the advisory committee sought to bring together people with varied experiences, backgrounds, and interest areas. "They also had to be willing to use the experiences in a professional way upon their return," Lindquist said. "And of course, their ability to get along with the others was important."
The participants are looking forward to using what they have learned about economic development, minority groups and race relations in lectures and courses on their home campuses and in the broader community. Other possible outcomes include specialized courses, foreign language and area studies programs, regional academic conferences, and contacts for possible exchange or travel programs. Shell hopes to develop specific lesson plans on the secondary and elementary school level, while Adams, who teaches fine arts, also hopes to use his experiences to create work for display in public exhibitions.
Participants include (front, l-r): Larry Webb, Michelle Harlow, Mary Shell, Curt Lindquist, Shirley Kirksey, Patty Smith; (back, l-r) Baogang Guo, John Kniess, Bruce Jones, Elizabeth Garbrah-Aidoo, Donald Gregory, Brad Adams, Ken Wheeler and Pam Wilson. Not pictured is Jonathan Good.
Planning can be fun as evidenced by Dr. Curtis Lindquist (standing) sharing a laugh with fom left, counterclockwise Baogang Guo, Dr. R. Bruce Jones, Mary Shell, Dr. Pamela Wilson, and Dr. Donald Gregory as they prepare to visit China during the summer of 2005. Lindquist has spent three years planning the Fulbright-Hays Group Project.
During the pre-departure session on May 6, 2005, Dr. Pamela S. Wilson (standing), an associate professor of communication at Reinhardt College, used an overview of U.S. Indian Affairs as a model for examining minority relations in China. Other participants plan to study political structures, economic reform, higher education, theatre and opera art.
Brad Adams (from right front, counter-clockwise) John Kniess, Dr. Larry Webb and Dr. Kenneth Wheeler discuss study ideas during a recent planning session.