Video Clip: College Participates in "SUNY China 150 Young Leaders Program"
Effort Coincides with College's 10-Year Anniversary of International Student Programs and Strengthens Existing Ties with China
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (August 4, 2008)- Ten years ago, the number of international students studying on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus fell in the dozens. The challenge faced by the fledgling program to attract more international students to its campus in upstate New York seemed daunting.
On the cusp of its 10-year anniversary, the international student program now supports over 400 students from 50 countries and has the second-highest undergraduate international population (per capita) of all the schools in the SUNY system, second only to the University at Buffalo.
"It's an unlikely success story and unfortunately our best kept secret," says Jackie Girard Vogl, director of International Student Services at SUNY Plattsburgh. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that we would go from 50 to 400 international students in a ten-year period. The students who come here generate a lot of excitement and goodwill, and they take that back to their communities. We enjoy a very positive reputation abroad."
And now that reputation will likely be further enhanced by SUNY Plattsburgh's participation in "SUNY China 150 Young Leaders Program."
In the aftermath of the massive earthquake that hit the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan Province of western China in May, representatives from Governor Paterson's office and SUNY began discussing ways to help. The fruit of those conversations was an offer from SUNY to 150 Chinese students, primarily sophomores and juniors: the opportunity to spend two semesters as full-time students at 22 SUNY state-operated and community college campuses beginning this fall.
As a part of these efforts, SUNY Plattsburgh will welcome six students from Sichuan Province toward the end of August. There is great anticipation about their arrival and this special connection in the coming year.
This latest SUNY Plattsburgh connection with China follows a number of other initiatives that have strengthened the college's ties with that country. In all, 69 students from China are enrolled at the college.
"SUNY Plattsburgh's global connections continue to grow and strengthen," said college president John Ettling. "We enjoy a strong partnership with Wanli University in China already; we have a number of students enrolled in our programs from Wanli and our faculty exchange program is up and running."
Articulation Agreement. In 2006, Bryan Higgins, director of International Education, and Dr. Wei Qiu of SUNY Plattsburgh negotiated the first articulation agreement with Zhejiang Wanli University in Ningbo, China.
Faculty & Student Exchanges. Last summer, Dr. Steve Gras, coordinator of SUNY Plattsburgh?s English as a Second Language program, taught English at Zhejiang Wanli University, and last March, Jackie Oertel, from the college's human development and family relations program, lectured there. At the moment, Marcia Gottschall and adjunct lecturer in English and a writing skills specialist is teaching English at Wanli and Dr. Jeff Hornibrook, associate professor of history, is visiting and conducting research in China through a Presidential research grant. Furthermore, this fall, Fan Qiqing, an English instructor from Wanli, will work with SUNY Plattsburgh's English as a Second Language program as a visiting foreign scholar. Moreover, six students from Wanli have studied or are currently enrolled at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Study Abroad Experiences. In May, Higgins and Qiu led a group of nine SUNY Plattsburgh students on a Global Field Study program to Wanli and Shanghai Normal University. Study abroad experiences like this one have grown tremendously at SUNY Plattsburgh. Last year, 207 students went on global education programs, double the number that went in 2004, and they have studied on every continent except Antarctica.
"The presence of so many students from all over the world enhances every aspect of the SUNY Plattsburgh experience," says Vogl. "I think our participation in SUNY China 150 is a natural extension of the work we do on a day-to-day basis. It's a win-win situation: SUNY is helping out students in need, and we benefit by having students who can help expand our understanding of the world in which we live, the global connections that we enjoy, and the possibilities that exist by working and learning together."