Scholarship at U funds study in China

Elizabeth Giorgi

The China program scholarship, which is funded through the Chinese government, soon will be awarded for the fifth consecutive year at the University.

The University’s China Center, in cooperation with the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., has been offering a full academic-year scholarship for a student to attend a university in Mainland China since 2001.

The scholarship – applications are due Friday – covers tuition, room and board and a monthly stipend to cover books and other expenses.

The Embassy selects from universities around the United States so they can bring the best students to China.

The University is chosen because it has one of the first China centers on its campus and because it has one of the largest Chinese student populations in the country, said China Center Director Hong Yang.

Minnesota and Chinese relations continue to grow, he said.

“(Scholarship recipients) value getting the experience and adding value to their future career and it is good for students to have such experience,” Yang said. “If you are looking at the development of business, there is a lot of U.S. businesses working with China.”

Sean Hammond, an Asian languages and literature senior who received a China Center scholarship last year, said he was able to see how business is connected around the world on his trip to China.

“Just seeing the amount of tonnage (of imports) that was being moved through the docks per day – it drove home the fact that China isn’t standing independent, (the world) is all connected,” he said.

Students’ increased interest in studying in China has caused the scholarship to become competitive, said China Center Assistant Director Joan Brzezinski.

She said it is difficult to decide which student will receive the scholarship.

Students interested in further study or a major in the Chinese language should consider applying for the scholarship, Brzezinski said.

“Unlike French and German, or other more Latin-based languages – there are big hurdles to learning Chinese,” she said. “Complete immersion is key to learning the language well and solidifying the basics that you will learn at the University.”

Public policy graduate student Julie Ha Truong was the first student to receive the China program scholarship, in 2001.

Truong said the biggest difficulty she faced was her inability to speak Chinese as if she were a native.

“The first month was very scary and I felt like an alien in a country where I expected to feel at home,” she said.

However, Truong said, students should not be discouraged to study abroad because of not knowing the language or culture of a country.

She said students should take advantage of the opportunities they have, and added that people adapt quickly and make friends no matter where they are in the world.

“The (China program) scholarship pays for everything and all you have to worry about is what you have to put out educationally and emotionally,” she said.

The student’s airfare, health insurance, physical examination requirement and any study-abroad service fees are not included in the scholarship, Brzezinski said.

Jennifer Wu Dunn, a China Center community program associate, said students not able to go to China for an entire year should consider applying for the Hsiao and Red Pocket scholarships that are funded through the China Center. Applications for these scholarships are due April 1.

Dunn said the China Center hopes to be a financial resource for students at the University.

“We think studying abroad is really one of the best ways to learn for a young person and we understand that young people don’t usually have a lot of money,” she said.