Students drawn to China for jobs

Students drawn to China for jobs

It was morning in China and time for the Northeastern students to leave. Before returning to their station, 16 students dropped by a local Chinese middle school. They were greeted by a performance, as the entire school executed their morning exercises as a goodbye gesture.

The Northeastern students soon joined in the performance.

“It was a very touching moment … Some of the students told me that they felt a sense of community that they cannot find in this community,” said Li Yan, a graduate Chinese history student.

These students participated in last summer’s Dialogue of Civilizations program, where they spent three weeks immersed in China’s culture.

According to a recent article in China Daily, there has been a 35 percent increase in the number of American students studying in China. At Northeastern an increase in student interest is most evident in higher enrollment in the Dialogue of Civilizations and the Chinese language classes.

Chris Gilmartin, who organized this year’s trip to China, said the spread of Chinese is extraordinary, and reflects the importance of the language and country as part of the world and global economy. She added that many students are interested in the jobs China has to offer.

“I think it’s all the work opportunities that exist now if you have these languages, with the development of the Chinese economy there are so many opportunities for a job in China,” Gilmartin said.

While Chinese is not offered as a major or minor, there are about 100 students enrolled in Chinese language classes this semester, the most ever. The amount of Chinese language classes has doubled since 2005, with six this semester.

Hua Dong, a Chinese language professor at Northeastern, said she was impressed by the number of students learning the language.

“In the spring, as opposed to the fall, we don’t have many freshmen, Dong said. “We don’t have many new incoming students, so we thought we probably couldn’t keep up the usual three classes for 101.”

She said, despite her expectations, the Chinese classes filled during the first weeks of registration, leaving some students unable to sign up for them. The department then opened another Chinese 102 class in response to student demand.

“I think a lot of our students here take Chinese classes not only for the culture and the history and the curiosity about the language but also in the more practical way because maybe they can go to China to find a job,” said Xiaoyang Zhou, a Chinese language professor.

Caila Diliberto, a sophomore undecided major, said she has seen an increase in the number of students studying Chinese since she began learning the language in high school.

“It’s probably because China’s population is so big and they’re becoming important in the economy, so their language is used more,” Diliberto said.

This year’s trip to China, called “Contemporary China in Cultural perspective,” will run from May 1 to 28 and will give students the opportunity to experience college in Beijing, the rural Anhui Province and the lifestyles of businessmen and women in Shanghai.

“They get to see the broad spectrum of Chinese society, getting a sense of cross-culture dialogue and getting students out of their comfort zone,” said Cynthia Rapp, program coordinator for the international affairs program.

Yan said she appreciates the attention American students are giving to her country and hopes it continues.

“It was really a great surprise for me to see that Chinese and China are getting more and more attention here in this country,” she said. “And I think there is more that we can do – both the Americans and Chinese can coordinate and cooperate.”

Leave a Reply