As China’s economy continues to flourish and their worldwide power constantly developing, CSUN’s China Institute is doing its best to serve as a bridge between the U.S. and China in the form of education.
Dr. Justine Su, director of the China Institute said the institute was established in 1982.
“The purpose of the program is to promote friendship, understanding, exchange, and collaboration between CSUN and China,” Su said.
Su said the institute has hosted many cultural and educational events, and sponsored many visiting scholars and students from China.
“Over the years we have helped CSUN establish formal academic cooperation relationships with more than 40 Chinese education institutions and government agencies,” Su said. “We’ve also facilitated the visits of our administrators, faculty, and students to China.”
One visiting scholar from Guangzhou, China is Sunny Deng, 26, who was selected to be the Lawrence Liu scholar by the Los Angeles Guangzhou Sister City Association (LAGSCA) to spend six months in Los Angeles to study at CSUN and experience the American way of life.
Deng, who has her Bachelor’s degree in English for Business Administration, is is now auditing American Foreign Policy at CSUN.
“The chance of studying at CSUN and living in the U.S. provides me with the precious opportunities to know more about Los Angeles and the whole United States, as well as to show to Americans the true color of Guangzhou as L.A.’s sister-city, and the great China,” Deng said.
Besides hosting visiting scholars and students from China, the China Institute also provides the opportunity to send students from CSUN to study in China.
“Our very notable program is the Chinese Government Scholarship program,” Su said. “We have engaged in that program for the past 10 years now, and have sent 18 CSUN students to study in China under four Chinese Government scholarships. We currently have four students studying there.”
Su said the Chinese Government Scholarship is an extremely prestigious scholarship that is only offered to the best candidates from all over the world. CSUN students go to China to study in the areas of film, language, culture, education, finance, and economics.
One recipient of the Chinese Government Scholarship in 2008 was a CSUN alumnus, Dara DiGerolamo, 28, who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Sociology.
DiGerolamo said she got involved with the China Institute by mistake.
“My involvement with the China Institute was an accident,” DiGerolamo said. “I was given an assignment for my Valley View News class to profile a person on CSUN’s campus.”
After being turned down by the university’s locksmith for the interview, DiGerolamo came across Su’s name after trying to find out who CSUN’s Fullbright Scholarship advisor was.
“I decided to drop Dr. Su an email,” DiGerolamo said. “She wasn’t so interested in talking about herself as she was talking about the China Institute. Ironically, the day I went to her office for the interview, it was also the day of a China Institute board meeting. She invited me to have lunch with the board members after the interview.”
During the interview, DiGerolamo said she heard about the Chinese Government Scholarship and was “more or less” convinced to apply for the scholarship.
Although DiGerolamo coincidently got involved in the China Institute, she regards the program as a “life changing experience.”
“Without the China Institute, I never would have gone to China,” DiGerolamo said. “I never would have met the people I now consider some of my best friends. The people who have opened my eyes to their home countries, languages and cultures. Once you get to China, no matter what field you’re studying, you’ll understand why it’s important to get involved with this rapidly growing country.”
DiGerolamo is now back in the U.S. working as the script coordinator for the ‘Dr. Phil’ show and is considering getting her Master’s degree in East Asian Studies.
As for Deng, she said she plans on returning to China after studying at CSUN to her former post in a local foreign affairs office in L.A.’s sister-city, Guangzhou.
“I hope to encourage more of our young students to participate in our educational and cultural programs,” Su said. “I promise they will broaden their perspectives, and I promise this will be a life changing experience for them.”