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TROY personnel describe ‘awesome’ China experience

July 26, 2019

Thanks to the Confucius Institute, a group of Troy University representatives recently toured China, exploring the mutual benefits of TROY’s relationship with the country while learning and teaching along the way.

The excursion took the TROY representatives to Shanghai, Chongqing, Xi’an and Beijing, an experience that included both educational and cultural visits.

“My trip to China has been an awesome experience,” said TROY Board of Trustees member Karen Carter. “It’s incredible to visit the country, see the history and visit the sites. Even though I’ve been several times now, I’m still inspired by the history and culture.”

The trip included a visit to TROY’s Chinese partner institution, Chongqing Normal University, where the Trojan contingent met with CNU leaders, faculty and students.

A Troy University delegation poses at Chongqing Normal University in Chongqing, China. Above them, a digital billboard reads "Warmly Welcome the Delegation of Troy University and the Delegation of Educators from Alabama, USA to Chongwing Normal University!"
TROY delegates gather at Chongqing Normal University.

“I met with the dean of libraries, some of her faculty and staff, and delivered a presentation on things we’re doing here,” said Dr. Chris Shaffer, Dean of Library Services. “They gave me a tour of their facility, which is really incredible. It’s a gigantic building, and they’re starting to work with virtual reality a little bit. I was able to get some ideas from them.”

CNU took a particular interest in video tutorials that TROY’s library has been offering students, representing a true exchange of ideas.

“I sent them copies of the videos so they can develop something similar,” he said. “On our side, I’ve tried to get as many perspectives as possible since I came here to TROY. I’ve been very interested in getting a diverse group of ideas, and I think this was a great opportunity for that.”

While at CNU, TROY personnel met with the institution’s new president, Dr. Dongfang Meng, before touring the university’s College of Journalism and Media Communication.

Troy University Director of Media Relations Matt Clower, left, and Assistant Professor of English Dr. Paige Paquette address a class at Chongqing Normal University. They stand in front of a whiteboard with a web page projected on it.
University Relations Director Matt Clower and Dr. Paige Paquette address a class at CNU.

“It was a really neat opportunity,” said Dr. Paige Paquette, Associate Professor of English. “We got a tour of their media, journalism and photography area, which was very impressive. We had lot of opportunities to speak to students, deans and faculty. I shared a lot about the programs we offer in our College of Communication and Fine Arts. (University Relations Director) Matt Clower shared some lessons about journalism with the students.”

The CNU students and faculty were eager to learn, but the TROY delegates walked away just as enlightened.

“This was my third trip to China and to CNU, and I am always impressed with the close relationship we have with the administrators, deans and faculty there,” Carter said. “I find them to be very open to our suggestions. They want to have an even greater relationship with us, to do more to foster the education of their students and our students. I am extremely pleased they have this kind of attitude toward Troy University.”

From there, the voyage took the group to Xi’an for a glimpse at the inspiration for one of TROY’s standout features, the Terracotta Army.

Numerous headless statues of the Terracotta Army stand in a vault in Xi'an, China.
A small portion of the Terracotta Army.

“Seeing the Terracotta warriors was one of the coolest things we did,” Paquette said. “To see so many that have been uncovered, and knowing that there are so many still to be excavated, it was awe-inspiring.”

A trip to Beijing coincided with a visit to Hanban, the international headquarters of the Confucius Institute.

“It was really an honor to see how well respected TROY is there and how important they feel our connection with them is,” Paquette said.

Carter credits Dr. Iris Xu, Director of the Confucius Institute at TROY, with fostering the relationship across continents.

A group of Confucius Institute and Troy University representatives gather together behind a TROY Confucius Institute banner at Hanban, the Institute's headquarters in Beijing, China.
Confucius Institute and TROY representatives at Hanban.

“It was inspiring to see what our Confucius director, Dr. Xu, is doing to help us better understand Chinese culture, language and people,” Carter said. “We Americans have a very different culture but also many similarities. When we meet people in China, I see they have great love and respect for one another. They’re genuine and open, and those who speak English want to talk to us.”

For Dr. Denise Green, who has lived in southeast Asia, the trip was a reminder of the many things she loves about China.

“China seems to be more global than I’ve ever seen it before,” said Green, Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “The Chinese people are like people everywhere – they’re family oriented, they’re hard workers, and they’re interested in growing and doing well. That’s never changed.”

She particularly enjoyed the group’s experiences with local entertainment, cuisine and entertainment.

Xi’an, China, at night.

“I always appreciate the music and the food,” Green said. “I find the Chinese people to be much like southerners – gracious, generous, kind, willing to share. I loved eating the food. I find it texturally rich and delightful. It’s very interesting.”

The TROY delegation returned home with a renewed understanding of the importance of international travel and the University’s relationship with CNU and the Confucius Institute.

“From personal experience, I can tell you experiences like this can completely change your life,” Shaffer said. “When I was a senior in college, I spent my last quarter studying in Germany. That led to me teaching for a year in eastern Europe, in Slovakia. All of that completely changed my outlook on the world around us. One of most profound things that can happen to someone is if they’re sitting in a classroom in Europe or Asia and they see a map in the room – that’s when they realize that America, contrary to popular belief, is not the center of the universe.”

For a full photo gallery of images taken during the trip, click here.