The Office of International Studies and Programs welcomed a delegation from Southwest University (SWU) in China on August 31.

The delegation was led by SWU Vice President of International Affairs Yule Jin. Other members of the delegation included the director of the Office of International Cooperation and Exchanges, the vice deans of Colleges of Agriculture, Geography, and Music, as well as staff from SWU’s International Office. The delegation had fruitful discussions about deepening institutional collaborations. They met with Illinois State President Larry Dietz, Provost Jan Murphy, Associate Provost Jonathan Rosenthal, as well as the department chairs and school directors of several academic units.

Representatives from Southwest University first visited Illinois State in October 2016. The delegation signed the collaboration memorandum of understanding with Illinois State at that time and started several collaboration initiatives. Since then, SWU has sent three groups of students (a total of 90 students) to Illinois State for short-term experiential learning programs, which took place in February, July, and August of 2017. The first two groups were composed of students from a variety of majors.

Illinois State’s Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP) conducted three-week training programs for these students, which included workshops on American society and culture, academic class observations, and sociocultural engagement activities. The students in the August group were teacher candidates from SWU. OISP conducted the training in collaboration with the College of Education. All of the students in the three groups expressed that these training programs not only provided them with insight on American education, society, and culture, but also allowed them to build lasting and meaningful friendships with their peers at Illinois State.

“With the SWU delegation’s second visit on August 31, the collaborations between the two universities will continue to expand, with ISU sending study abroad students to SWU and SWU sending longer-term exchange students to ISU, possibly starting with majors such as agriculture and geography. We are working with our SWU partners to arrange the details of these opportunities,” said Yimin Wang, OISP’s associate director.

Illinois State will also send a delegation to visit SWU in late October to continue conversations about comprehensive collaborations.

“We are very happy to see ISU’s collaboration with SWU grow in such a fruitful and substantial way within the past year, since SWU’s first visit. SWU is a very reputable university in China, with education and agriculture as its main strengths—a very good match for ISU. I see great potential for the two institutions to further develop this partnership and to enhance the internationalization process of both institutions,” said Luis Canales, director of OISP.