Honors in China
Recently, eleven LSU students studied abroad in Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Beijing as part of the second Honors College summer study trip, LSU/Honors in China.
Jeremy Joiner, Coordinator of Academic Advising & Enrollment for the Honors College and the coordinator for the trip, has traveled with Honors College students to China six times, and he said that he gains something new each time he visits China.
“A lot of the places that we visit are the same … but really it’s the students who largely shape the experience, so each year it’s different,” he said. “When you’re traveling with a group, you really get to know them; I’ve gotten to know a lot of great students over the years, and this group was no exception.”
This year’s program was a joint venture between the Honors College and the Asian Studies minor program. Honors and non-Honors students alike visited famous historical sites, explored ancient temples, and took classes at Tongji University on Chinese Civilization, Religion and Popular Culture, and Mandarin Chinese.
Students on the trip had the opportunity to visit the Temple of Heaven, tour the Forbidden City, and even watch the sunrise from the Great Wall.
Eric Newberry, an Honors international trade and finance junior minoring in Chinese, decided to go on the trip because of his interest in international business, specifically between China and the United States.
“This trip was an amazing experience for me and I think it was for everyone that was able to go with us,” he said. “We had great professors and advisors who showed us more of the country than I could’ve ever seen on my own, and I was able to see a developing country on the cusp of becoming a global superpower.”
Newberry said that the trip allowed him to develop his Chinese speaking skills, learn more about the history of China, and see the world from a completely different perspective.
“There were a lot of unexpected cultural differences,” he said. “For example, the population of cities in China is hard to imagine. People talked about Xi’an, a city of over six million people, like it was a small city, and it really made me think differently about major cities in the United States. Compared to China, we have very few ‘big’ cities.”
The four-week program aimed to introduce LSU students to the history of China, as well as Chinese society and culture.
Erin Percevault, a landscape architecture junior, said she decided to go on the trip because of her interest in Chinese gardens and architecture.
“I was told the temples and gardens were beautiful, but was constantly amazed by the intricacy and thought and love put into these spaces,” she said. “And I was told the people were friendly, but could not have expected their openness and their interest having a conversation with me in a mix of English, Mandarin, and charades.”
Like Newberry, Percevault said that the best part of the trip was allowing her to experience the world in a brand-new way.
“I learned a great deal about a perspective of the world that is very different, and was unknown to me before except in little pieces,” she said.
Story by Elizabeth Clausen, LSU Honors College
For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831