A group from Bennett College, which includes 20 students, will travel on an all-expenses-paid trip to China to conduct research, become immersed in the culture and learn more about clean energy as part of the 100,000 Strong Initiative by the Wanxiang Group, a multinational automotive components group headquartered in Hangzhou, China.
Last summer, I attended a White House initiative for women convened by Melissa Harris Perry in her initiative to develop research opportunities for women of color. While there, I met someone who was affiliated with President Obamas 100,000 Strong Foundation. The person informed me that they were looking for female students to collaborate with Chinese female students around clean energy, and of course, I said the program would be a great opportunity for our school, Rosalind Fuse-Hall, Bennett College President, told TNJ.com in a recent interview.
100,000 Strong Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that was created as a result of the U.S. State Department initiative of President Barack Obama that called for 100,000 American students engaging with China. Wanxiang partnered with the City of Chicago to set up the first program. Other colleges the group has partnered with include the Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, Lone Star College, and the Congressional Black Caucus and two delegations of students from historically black colleges and universities.
This program provides an immersive experience, exposing our students to the culture and language of the most populous country in the world, and allowing them to gain valuable research skills that they will bring back to Bennett to share with the entire campus, said Lee Todhunter, interim director of Bennett College Center for Global Studies. Fully funded opportunities are rare and Bennett is so fortunate to have formed this partnership.
The students chosen for the two-week trip are from various majors at the College and they have a busy and enlightening curriculum to look forward to during their stay on a Polytechnic college campus while in China. Says Fuse-Hall, There will be a number of seminars where they will learn the history, language and social and economic development of China; they will learn the teachings of ancient Chinese philosophers; they will also have seminars that address the development and applications of various types of energy in China and they will visit clean energy related facilities. And this is all part of a research process because each of our students will be paired up with a Chinese student. Their collaboration with their Chinese peers will continue for a year after which our five of our students will be responsible for turning in a research paper.
She adds, Global acumen is critically important to our strategic focus. We want our students to understand global issues and be able to filter any kind of complex problems they are solving through a global filter. Many of our students are going out of the country for the first time, and we want to continue to expose them to world issues. It is critical to where we are going as a college strategically to be able to offer these kinds of opportunities. On average, we have 5 different co-horts of students studying around the world each semester. Last semester, our students were in China, Turkey, Cypress and Columbia. We also have foreign scholars who come here every year to teach our students their languages and customs. So far, our students have learned Mandarin, Arabic and Portuguese. So, this global exchange operates on a lot of different levels between our students traveling abroad and scholars here.
Fuse-Hall says the Colleges study abroad program even sent a few students to India last year to live with a family for a Hindu immersion course.
As for the upcoming trip to China, students are excited.
“I am so grateful that I will have this opportunity, to go to China at no cost and bring back knowledge about clean energy, Shani McMichael, sophomore from Dayton Ohio majoring in psychology with a Spanish minor. This will be my first time traveling outside of the country. I hope to gain knowledge on how Bennett can reduce its energy costs.