NC State University is home to the largest international student population in the state of North Carolina. During the Spring 2016 semester, 3,347 internationals were enrolled. Of that number, 1,074 were from China making our Chinese students the second largest international population at the university and one that has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years. The overall size and rapid growth of this specific population presents both challenges and opportunities for the NC State community. Academic departments and campus units have felt many of the challenges, as they have had to adjust to serve the unique needs of Chinese students and to understand the cultural perspective they bring to campus.
It also brings a new opportunity to incorporate “international” into the traditional view on diversity, as international students and programs offer more diversity to our campus and we need to account for these new influxes of international students to create a welcoming and inclusive environment. At the same time, the growing Chinese population also provides NC State with untapped cultural resources to produce globally minded graduates. The growth of this population contributes to the overall diversity of our student body while also encouraging meaningful cultural exchange on campus. This is particularly significant for domestic students who may not have the opportunity to study abroad or otherwise engage in international travel during college.
The Office of International Services (OIS) supports all of NC State’s international students and provides programming for the community. The Confucius Institute (CI) offers Chinese language and cultural programs for NC State and the community. The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) awarded OIS and CI a Diversity Mini Grant, “Ni Hao Wolfpack: Chinese Cultural Campus Training.” The organizers applied for the grant in the Fall of 2016 and were awarded a small sum of money for cultural training for Spring 2017.
For the student component, the units from International Affairs collaborated with Exploratory Studies and offered three workshops on modern China. Kim Outing, Director, and Amanda Beller, Academic Advisor, helped with this program. 30 students attended the workshop and the program was expanded to students outside of Exploratory Studies to increase participation. The students interacted with Chinese undergraduate students to learn about Chinese New Year, Chinese customs and enjoyed a scavenger hunt to Grand Asia to apply what they learned at the workshops. Some student participants were interested in learning about a new culture and others were preparing to study abroad in China for a semester.
For the faculty and staff component, two workshops were offered with Poole College of Management’s (PCOM) Undergraduate Programs and the College of Education’s Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences.
For the Poole College of Management, 11 advisors were trained since they connect the most with Chinese students. Tamah Morant, Associate Dean, Rob Sandruck, Director of Global Programs and Brad Wingo, Director of Undergraduate Advising collaborated on the project to customize a workshop called “How to best support your Chinese students?” The most beneficial aspect of the workshop was the Chinese student panel, where students spoke openly about challenges and suggestions to help Chinese undergraduate students.
For the College of Education, John Lee, Professor & Head, and Hiller Spires, Professor, collaborated on the project to train 18 faculty on “How to best support your Chinese graduate students?”
The OIED mini- grant impacted a total of 30 students and 29 employess to increase awareness of the second largest international population on campus. Organizers plan to continue to offer these programs to other departments, and may focus on other regions of the world in the future.