In English Language Programs at Winona State University, a large Chinese scroll hangs proudly on the wall. Written in Chinese calligraphy by artist Linan Chen, the scroll reads, “True knowledge will bridge China and the West [學貫中西].”
The scroll was gifted to the university by Hong Zhang, a Visiting Scholar from Xi’an Shiyou University in China. According to Zhang, giving a calligraphic scroll is an honored tradition in China and promotes a respectful relationship of sharing common beliefs and goals between people, or in this case, universities.
Zhang is one of two Visiting Scholars being hosted by ELP this year. She and Yan Jin, a Visiting Scholar from WSU’s partner university, Hebei University of Technology, will finish up their residencies over the course of the next few months before returning home to share what they’ve learned.
Zhang arrived at WSU in fall 2018 after receiving a scholarship from Xi’an Shiyou University to conduct research in the fields of Teacher Education, English for Specific Purposes, and online teaching of English Composition. Winona State was a natural selection for her host institution, she says, because of its long history as a teacher’s college and its strong reputation for teacher education and training.
Yan Jin is completing research in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She says she chose WSU because she took a teacher training course in ELP in 2014 and was impressed by the knowledge and professionalism of WSU’s faculty.
Through the Visiting Scholar program, Jin hopes to improve as a teacher.
“I want to gain more ideas in teaching methodologies and learn more about the theories to reflect upon my own teaching,” she says.
Jin also hopes for a reciprocal sharing of knowledge—educating faculty at WSU about Chinese teaching styles and sharing her knowledge with her colleagues when she returns to China.
As Visiting Scholars, Zhang and Jin have had the opportunity to learn about curriculum development, compare educational systems, research course materials, attend academic conferences, and give presentations to the WSU community about their culture and Chinese universities. They have also had the opportunity to learn about Midwestern culture and meet many new people, including the Mayor of Winona.
The Winona community has been very welcoming and friendly, says Zhang, and she and Jin are grateful for the friendships that have formed.
“I really experienced the nice people here. Winona nice. Minnesota nice.”
For Katie Subra, Director of English Language Programs, the Chinese scroll gifted to the university by Zhang is symbolic of the goals of the Visiting Scholar program—both the current partnership and the promise for the future.
“The fact that WSU is able to host Visiting Scholars—that they have selected us as their hosts, and that their scholarship program is supporting their professional development—shows the significance of building bridges for international and intercultural communication on behalf of all of us,” Subra says.
“The scroll and the Visiting Scholars’ presence represent both WSU’s educational ties to the East and our commitment to strengthening our global community.”