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Center for American Culture at Wuhan University opens

Center for American Culture opensA grand opening ceremony on September 18 officially launched the Wuhan University-Ohio State University Center for American Culture in the Hubei Province of China. Located in Wuhan University’s newly built School of Foreign Literature and Languages, and funded by a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State, the center provides 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.

An Ohio State delegation led by William Brustein, vice provost for global strategies and international affairs, and Bob Eckhart, a lecturer in both the Department of English and the Combined ESL Programs in the College of Education and Human Ecology and director of the Center for American Culture, traveled to China to preside over the ceremony and a weeklong slate of activities.

Designed by Frank Ma, an Ohio State alumnus, the center features an American atmosphere that includes 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.

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.

The first group from Ohio State to use the completed center were graduate students from the Higher Education and Student Affairs program in the College of Education and Human Ecology, who arrived in June and stayed for one month, leading programming activities at the center for Chinese students and completing their own independent research projects. The Wuhan University Summer Intensive English Program also used the center this summer for cooking demonstrations, book discussions and movie screenings to enhance their knowledge about American culture. Now open, the center will be used by English teachers at Wuhan University, as well as a student organization called English Street, which promotes English language and U.S. culture.

While the center was still under construction, Ohio State initiated the WHU-OSU Center for American Culture Seminar Series, which featured faculty members traveling to Wuhan University to lead workshops and deliver lectures. Participants included Xiaobin Jian, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Terry Odlin, Department of English, Chris Fairman and Jessica Dworkin, both from the College of Law, and Gene Holland, Department of Comparative Studies.

Other delegation members who participated in the opening ceremonies included Javaune Adams-Gaston, Vice President for Student Life, Galal Walker, from the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and Minru Li, of Ohio State’s Foreign Language Center.

Photos by Liv Gjestvang.