Fresno State President Joseph Castro and a group of university representatives visited China over the summer to connect the university with highly recognized Chinese universities through the Legends of China organization.
“The primary focus of the recent trip to China was to participate in the Legends of China program and to explore new partnerships with some of the most prestigious Chinese universities,” Castro said.
The program aims to build relationships among educators, students and artists in the United States and China. While other American universities participated in the program — including campuses from the University of California system — Fresno State was the first California State University campus to take part. In total, the program includes 200 universities from North America and 400 Chinese institutions.
Castro, along with a delegation of deans, faculty and two students, traveled for 11 days in July to various parts of China, including Shanghai, Xian and Beijing. The group visited universities, historic landmarks and met with public officials such as the mayor of Beijing.
The group also spent some time sightseeing, visiting the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
Moses Menchaca, president of Associated Students, Inc., was one of the students who traveled to China. He said one of the goals of the trip was to encourage Fresno State students to study abroad.
“It was also intended to encourage more foreign exchange,” Menchaca said. “Most [international] students at Fresno State are from China.”
According to Fresno State’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness, the university had 77 students from China in fall 2013.
Castro said the new relationships with Chinese universities helps put Fresno State on the international spectrum.
“It was an incredible educational and cultural experience for all of us. I believe that it will result in exciting new partnerships that advance Fresno State’s educational and research programs,” said Castro.
Menchaca said the group also spent time in Hong Kong to compare characteristics of the city to mainland China; he said there were stark cultural contrasts.
“I would say this is similar to Texas and the U.S.,” Menchaca said.
There were also language barriers on the trip.
“At our first meeting with a university, I was in shock to actually see that no one spoke English. I was under the assumption that everyone knew a little English such as words like yes, no and bathroom,” said Menchaca. “At this meeting, only the Fresno State participants and their translator spoke English. It was very interesting to be in a country where no one knew English.”
Menchaca also noted the universal appeal of music at the National Centre for the Theater of Performing Arts.
“The facilities were absolutely amazing, and the music was wonderful,” Menchaca said.