Eighteen Chinese students are now in Fulton as part of a summer two-week program involving Chinese and American students traveling to each nation.
Six of those Chinese students took some time away from Westminster College Professor Kurt W. Jefferson's political science class Tuesday to discuss their impressions of Americans and the changing face of their homeland in the People's Republic of China.
Jefferson is the chairman of the newly organized Transnational Studies and International Studies Department of Political Science at the Churchill Institute at Westminster College. It's also part of a plan to add a new Westminster campus in Mesa, Ariz.
"We have formed the Center for Engaging the World and we are trying to make a deeper connection with the Chinese and that's why these students are here for this summer program. We also have about 12 full-time Chinese students who attend Westminster," Jefferson said.
Their trip to the United States was financed, the students said, by their government in an attempt to gain better access and to improve relations between China and the United States.
Many of the students learned English while still attending elementary schools in China.
The students represent a new generation that is now experiencing the effects of huge changes sweeping over China.
Watching over the youngsters visiting in the United States is Wang Xiaoting, senior officer at the Administration Office of the Division of International Exchange & Cooperation at Beijing Union University in Beijing, China.
Wang said she has experienced first hand the many changes in China and students today may not even be aware of how significant those changes have been. When she was growing up in China only a few high school students were allowed to enroll in college. Now, almost all high school students have a chance for college if they qualify. "Now students are allowed to go abroad to obtain advanced degrees. Ten years ago, there was only one foreign student attending Beijing Union University. Now there are more than 500 international students from all over the world," Wang said.