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The Ohio State University and Wuhan University in the People’s Republic of China have been awarded a $100,000 federal grant from the Department of State to fund the WHU-OSU Center for American Culture, located within the School of Foreign Languages on the Wuhan campus in the Hubei Province of China. The grant will support interactive programming to provide information about American culture and the English language to the people of China.
The $100,000 grant is one of only 10 that has been awarded by the American Embassy in Beijing to pairs of Chinese and American universities throughout the United States and China.
A delegation from Ohio State traveled to China to meet with officials from Wuhan University to commemorate the approval of funds to open the center. Attending the informal ceremony was
Gary Locke, the U.S. Ambassador to China, President Li Xiaohong of Wuhan University and officials from Ohio State, including Vice Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs William I. Brustein, Bob Eckhart, a Lecturer in both the Department of English and the Combined ESL Programs in the College of Education and Human Ecology, Minru Li, Assistant Director of the National East Asian Language Resource Center, and Phoebe You, Director of Ohio State’s China Gateway.
“The Center for American Culture is another step in the right direction for Ohio State in terms of our engagement in global initiatives,” Brustein said. “The value of teaching global perspectives to the next generation is an invaluable asset and better prepares students for a myriad of opportunities that may arise. Our partnership with Wuhan University and our engagement in China help fulfill our mission to serve our community and the world at large.”
The Center for American Culture will create a learning environment that promotes a better understanding of the diversity of U.S. culture through lectures and discussions on the U.S. legal system, social structures and higher education as well as American literature, music, film and television. Visitors to the center will experience an American atmosphere that will include furnishings typically found in the United States, a demonstration kitchen to sample American cuisine and an entertainment area to experience board games and other activities. A calendar of special events will be developed to share American culture that includes the celebration of holidays, American storytelling, sports, American history, and other programming.
The center will be jointly operated by Junping Liu, Deputy Dean of the College of Foreign Languages and Literature at Wuhan University and Ohio State's Eckhart, who also is Program Manager for the Wuhan University Summer Intensive English Program, a partnership with the College of Education and Human Ecology. Liu will oversee the day-to-day operations of the center while Eckhart will direct programming efforts.
“I am looking forward to this innovative leadership structure. We are two people working together to do one job, just like China and the U.S. must work together to promote education, economic prosperity and peace,” Eckhart said.
The opening of the WHU-OSU Center for American Culture is the culmination of a 30-year partnership between the two universities in areas that include language teaching, chemistry, irrigation and drainage, clean energy, library and information science, law and medicine. In addition to student and faculty exchanges, Ohio State has trained over 30 Wuhan administrators in three separate delegations. Since 2004, the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State has collaborated with Wuhan University in conducting the Wuhan University Summer Intensive English Program where teachers from across the United States are recruited annually, trained by Ohio State, and then travel to China to teach college students about contemporary American culture. In the last seven years, over 100 teachers have traveled to China on this program and taught almost 5,000 students.
Core objectives for the center are to: create an advanced English language and authentic American cultural environment; promote administrative, faculty and student training; provide cultural background information to Chinese and American businesses; utilize a videoconferencing facility to increase programming, including opportunities for English conversation; and increase the number of collaborative projects between faculty at Wuhan University and Ohio State.
In addition to the Center for American Culture, Ohio State also operates a China Gateway office in Shanghai. It serves as a point of contact for faculty research, teaching and international partnerships; and a portal for study abroad opportunities and international student recruitment. The China Gateway also provides Ohio State with an opportunity to partner with Ohio-based businesses and multinationals operating in global markets and the ability to connect with Ohio State alumni.
Wuhan University is one of the top 10 universities in China and enrolls nearly 50,000 students. It is best known as a leader in China in the fields of biological studies and law.
Visit the Center for American Culture to learn more.