Chinese Exchange Students Take On Challenges
by Tiara Bennett, Sophomore, Mass Communications
Imagine moving over 7,000 miles to a country you have only heard about. The people look at you as if you don't belong because you don't speak their language. You're not sure if you should get back on the plane to go back home or continue your journey and make your family proud. Friends and family are so far away, the only method to reach them is through a phone call, email or Skype. You have to learn how to adapt to the weather, people and food. The only thing to keep you motivated is going to school studying something you love. This is what five students from the Hubei University of Chinese Medicine are experiencing here at Winston-Salem State University this year as participants in a dual degree program in nursing.
The Hubei University of Chinese Medicine is located in Wuhan City, Hubei Province in the central area of the People's Republic of China. Established in 1958, the university has over 17,200 students and offers over 18 specialties in the medical field, including traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and advanced traditional Chinese medical surgery.
"This is the first cohort of students who have come from Hubei University as part of a partnership that began seven years ago," said Dr. Peggy Valentine, dean of the School of Health Sciences. "These students will complete their final two years of nursing at WSSU and will receive dual degrees from Hubei and our institution." The dual degree program was established in 2012 when Wang Hua, president of Hubei University, and several of the school's key administrators visited WSSU. Representatives of both universities had worked to create a program that allows nursing students who complete two years at Hubei to transfer to WSSU to pursue their B.S.N. degree. In addition to delegations from Hubei visiting WSSU, WSSU faculty members traveled to China to finalize the curriculum for the program. Also, students from both institutions have been participating in videoconferencing as part of a global understanding class.
"These students from China have been working diligently to improve their command of the English language in order to take advantage of this opportunity," said Dr. Lenora Campbell, associate dean for nursing. "Having this interaction between students from both universities will increase the cultural competence of our students and their students. Understanding the impact culture can have on health outcomes has become increasingly important in health care fields."
The students expressed that being at WSSU was not always easy and they had many challenges. "The only thing I cannot adapt to is the fast pace of the professor. It really is busy, I promise, but overall the schedule pushes you to keep going," said Rui Ye, who is a junior. Rui Ye is the eldest of two. After graduation, Rui would like to find a job in her field. "I want to do something to help ease the load of my parents." In Rui’s free time, she likes to hang out with her friends, but she barely has any free time.
All of the students are from Wuhan, China, which is compared to our New York City. The public transportation is a way of life in Wuhan just like in New York. Unlike in Winston-Salem, NC, you need a car everywhere you go or you will not be able to get around. Yini Jiang said she spends more time playing video games and tennis since she can’t get to the mall. She is a twin and she is also the older one. After Yini Jiang graduates, she prefers to stay in the United States, but in another city. "I think my greatest challenge is that I need more American friends, so that I can better adapt to life here."
"It is more relaxing unlike in China, where you do not have much time to enjoy life," explained Wenting Yang, who is a junior. After graduation, she plans on staying in the United States for five years to receive her master's in nursing then she will return back to China. "I am the only child in my family, so doing study abroad for two years was a hard decision. My family and my friends do miss me a lot and I miss them also," she said. Wenting likes to read books and travel in her spare time. "Traveling is a good way to experience other cultures and a good way to understand how other people live."
Since these students are nursing majors they get to go to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for a clinical class. "It was an exciting experience for me because I got to see the difference between Chinese hospitals and American hospitals," said Xuelun Chu, who is also junior. In Xuelun's spare time, she likes to watch movies and try new restaurants. She is the only child in her family. Xuelun wants to become a registered nurse in a hospital or receive her master’s degree in nursing. "I really appreciate Winston Salem State University giving us a chance, so that we can come to America. Here I can get a better education and broaden my horizons."
"I like this university very much because of the good academic atmosphere and the people here are willing to learn more about our country and they are willing to talk to us," said Bowen Zhang, who is also a junior. He is the only child in his family. He likes to play soccer and basketball in his spare time. After graduation, he would like to find a job and get his master's in nursing. The hardest challenge Bowen had to deal with was trying to find a close friend to share his experiences and obstacles to.
Each student overcame their challenges here at WSSU no matter if it was the language barrier, not enough American friends, lack of transportation, or even the quick pace of the professor. These five students stepped out of their comfort zone to come to America to receive an education we all take for granted. They left everyone they love to better their lives for both their families and themselves. The atmosphere at this school allowed each student to feel comfortable. They were able to learn from us and we are able to learn from them. Winston-Salem State University is about different cultures and races to come together to build upon each other and make the community better.