Education is at the heart and soul of cultural relationships
In Mequon, Wisconsin, Concordia University peacefully sits on the shore of Lake Michigan. Like the rest of the world, Concordia has had to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and figure out how to continue providing an education to its students while prioritizing their safety and wellbeing. However, Concordia has been faced with the extra challenge of coordinating the education of over 80 Chinese students enrolled in their Rehabilitation Science dual degree program through a partnership with Shanghai Normal University Tianhua College.
Concordia believes that education is at the heart and soul of cultural relationships and offers an opportunity to expand collaboration and communication between two countries. Within this dual degree program, students from China spend two years in Shanghai and one year at Concordia to complete their degree. The partnership between the two universities, which has an official stamp of approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education, began in 2016, with the first cohort of Chinese students arriving in Wisconsin last year. The academic year spent on Concordia’s campus gives the Chinese students the opportunity to experience the American education system and create relationships that help them expand their knowledge and personal networks. Now, due to the ongoing global pandemic, Concordia has had to rethink how to continue providing this unique educational program to its students while being unable to hold in-person classes.
Hope for a mutually prosperous future
As a result, Concordia has turned to a combination of Zoom lectures, comprehensive class materials and intensive online sessions with staff members to continue teaching the program. Despite the time difference between Wisconsin and China, the staff has remained dedicated to the students and has made sure that their students have everything they need in order to succeed. Concordia is also currently working on plans to provide the Chinese students with a summer semester next year, so they are still able to experience two full semesters on campus in America.
In times like these, education offers a unique opportunity for the world to remain connected. Concordia’s partnership with Shanghai Normal has created numerous relationships and networks that are enabling the future success of educational collaboration between the United States and China. These relationships are the fibers that hold the bridge between our two countries together and allows us to continue working towards a future where we are able to continue learning from each other. As the relationship between the United States and China continues to grow in importance on the global stage, educational collaboration will face challenges, but programs like Concordia’s show that there is hope for a mutually prosperous future.