Hendrix Continues to Cultivate Ties with China

China Odyssey

CONWAY, Ark. (June 19, 2013) – Hendrix continues to pursue academic partnership and engaged learning opportunities in China.

Dr. Peter Gess, Director of the Odyssey and International Programs, recently returned from China.

"There are a lot of exciting things going on," Gess said.

For example, Dr. Wenjia Liu, a Chinese language professor at Hendrix, and eight Hendrix students are exploring the Chinese film industry this summer. Their trip is supported by Your Hendrix Odyssey: Engaging in Active Learning, the College's engaged learning initiative.

Students on the China Odyssey include:

  • Kaitlin Bertram '16 from Fayetteville, Ark.
  • Anne Boyer '15 from New Rochelle, N.Y.
  • Kristin Foster '15 from Denton, Texas
  • Kelly Johnson '16 from Bowling Green, Ky.
  • Rane Peerson '14 from Alma, Ark.
  • Edwin Sherwood '15 from Sherwood, Ark.
  • Katie Shultz '15 from Austin, Texas
  • Joshua Smith '14 from Conway, Ark.

The group, accompanied by Shane Nunn, a 1987 Hendrix graduate who works in China, is visiting film studios and location settings. Students will also attend the Shanghai International Film Festival and see the country's important historic and cultural sites. 

Gess met up with Hayden Brown, a senior from Dallas, Texas, who is currently studying at East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai. Hendrix currently has a partnership with that institution's business school, Gess said. 

Gess also visited Heilongjiang University in Harbin, China. Hendrix and Heilongjiang have an established student and faculty exchange program, Gess said.

Four Hendrix students are currently studying at Heilongjiang:

  • Tammy Barnes '14 from Conway, Ark.
  • Nicholas Drake '14 from Harper Woods, Mich.
  • Daniel Durbin '14 from Hot Springs, Ark.
  • Harrison Maddox '14 from Searcy, Ark.

The trip was also an opportunity to visit potential new partners, Gess said.

Gess met with representatives from JESIE—the Jiangsu Province Education Services for International Exchange. JESIE is very interested in having Hendrix graduates teach English in primary and secondary schools in China and would offer ESL certification during the summer before school begins, Gess said.

On the recommendation of Hendrix religion professor Dr. Jay McDaniel, Gess met with leaders at United International College (UIC) in Zhuhai. UIC is a partnership between Beijing Normal University and Hong Kong Baptist University

"We're pursuing opportunities there and would be beneficial to establish a bilateral relationship for student exchange and, later, faculty exchange and research," Gess said. "They're interested in Hendrix too and they see us as a similar kind of place."

UIC is a residential college with courses taught in English and encourages engaged learning. Their slogan is "a new liberal arts college to serve China and the world."

"It's an incredibly unique place for China," Gess said.

With McDaniel, Gess participated in the International Workshop on Constructive Post-modernism and Whole Person Education at UIC, where he discussed liberal arts education, the Odyssey program, and whole person education at Hendrix.

"I talked about the unique factors and characteristics of our engaged learning at Hendrix," he said. "I shared our goal of creating an ethos that makes engagement permeate the whole campus, the importance of guided critical reflection, student self-authorship and tying it in with self and vocational discovery. I also talked about how engaged learning is a graduation requirement and the need for significant funding for engaged learning programs."

"They were most interested in assessment, so I also talked about the importance of learning goals and applying rubrics," he added.

"It's really exciting to see a place like Hendrix in China," Gess said. "I think liberal arts colleges are uniquely positioned to prepare young people for the future because of our focus on whole person education, experiential learning, and critical thinking."

"The more like-minded institutions promoting whole-person education, the better we all are," he said. "There are only advantages to be gained from the exchange of ideas."

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country's "Up and Coming" liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country's best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.