This summer, two Creighton faculty members will lead a group of students on a three-week academic and cultural trip across China.
Every student embarking on this journey will be required to take a three-credit class while in China. Arts & Sciences junior Alex Sass said he looks forward to taking Introduction to Buddhism.
“I think this class will be incredibly interesting,” Sass said. “I had a class with Professor Yuan last semester and I really enjoyed it, and I feel that I will enjoy and learn a lot from this experience.”
Faculty director Jinmei Yuan has taught several groups of Creighton students in China since the program began in 2006. Yuan has countless stories from her past trips to China. A smile spread across Yuan’s face as she remembered visiting places in China like the Wet Nurse Village.
There is a one-child policy in China — according to Yuan — and families want to have boys, not girls or children with defects. As a result, some families choose to send their infants to Wet Nurse Village so that farmers can take care of them.
“Some of the babies were so cute, we loved them. We wanted to bring them back with us,” Yuan said.
Yuan also recalled one summer trip when their group visited the Yungang Buddhist Caves. There, the group of Creighton students was paid to translate Chinese characters in the temple into English. The group donated the money that they received from completing the translation to a one-roomed school, according to Yuan. Yuan said that the teacher was very grateful for the donation because it equated to years worth of educational grants.
“Now that the translation has been completed, we still like to take the students there to read the translations of the previous Creighton students,” Yuan said.
Arts & Sciences senior Jozef Pavnica will be traveling to China this summer. Pavnica said he looks forward to visiting the Yungang Caves that Yuan described.
“I am especially looking forward to the service opportunities in the flooded communities near the Yungang Caves and the Three Gorges Dam which impounds the Yangzi River,” Pavnica said.
Although the schedule for this summer’s trip is still tentative, according to Yuan, the student’s will certainly do some service. Yuan wants to expose the students to the fancy cities in China, but also the poor areas.
“The students will be culture shocked because China developed so fast,” Yuan said. “If they go to Beijing they feel like Omaha is a poor city, but just a half hour away from Beijing, they see the poor area.”
For the people in these poor places, Yuan said, just a notebook can make them happy.
“I don’t want our students to think our way of living is the only way,” Yuan said. ”We need to learn every way of living if we want to change the world.”
While in China, Creighton students will have to overcome several challenges. Pavnica, who has been to Canada, the Dominican Republic and several countries in Europe, says the Far East will be very different from anywhere he has visited. One of the main challenges that Pavnica anticipates is the language barrier.
“I am just beginning a rudimentary, self-directed study of the language in hopes of knowing basic greetings and phrases,” Pavnica said.
In addition to the language barrier, according to Yuan, the students will have to adjust to the pollution in big cities like Beijing.
“The pollution in Beijing is terrible, but we manage it,” Yuan said.
Yuan noted that, upon leaving Beijing, students usually notice a significant change in the air.
Despite these challenges, Creighton students have a lot to look forward to.
“I am really looking forward to having a great experience with a few students I do not know and to learn about a different culture that has always been interesting to me,” Sass said.
Another Creighton student traveling to China this summer is senior Lotplar Laywah, a social work major and Asian Studies minor. Laywah looks forward to seeing the beauty, history, and wonders of modern China.
“Each student has different reasons for choosing to study abroad including: to learn a new language or improve language skills, learn about a new culture, gain confidence, become more independent, take courses not offered at Creighton, prepare for a career or simply to travel,” Study Abroad coordinator Heather Torres said.
Torres encourages students interested in future studying abroad opportunities, like this one, to attend a Study Abroad 101 session to learn about program options and the application process. Sessions are held every Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the Office of International Programs (Harper 4036). For more information, Torres says, students can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org