The China Institute at CSUN was established in 1982 to enhance the U.S.-China relations and fulfill the public’s increasing interest in China. The institute now has nearly two hundred members, including CSUN faculty, staffs, and students.
The Institute has promoted diverse academic and cultural activities, such as lecture series, forums, faculty and student exchanges, film festivals, performances, and art exhibits to inform and exchange Chinese culture.
The institute has taken on a major role in the CSUN’s exchange programs, and it has been a ‘window’ for CSUN students to study abroad in China since the first recipient spent the 1999-2000 academic year studying at the Beijing Film Academy. Each year, two students from CSUN are chosen by the China Consulate General in Los Angeles to live and study in China for one whole year, paid for by the Chinese Government.
‘In the past nine years, we sent 14 CSUN students away to study in China,’ said Dr. Justine Zhixin Su, a director of China Institute. ‘The mission of China Institute is to promote friendship, understanding, exchange and collaboration between CSUN and China.’
Thanks to the support of China Institute and the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles, two CSUN students are spending the 2008-09 academic year in Shanghai.
Dara DiGerolamo, who graduated from CSUN in May, is studying broadcast journalism at Shanghai Fudan University.
‘China was gearing up for the 2008 Summer Olympics and many journalists were having problems getting visas to cover stories in China,’ said DiGerolamo. ‘An opportunity to go to China was handed to me and I couldn’t pass it.’
Matthew Myers, who got a degree in business finance at CSUN, is studying international finance and economic research at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.
‘I decided to study in China because now, more than ever, it is important to have international exposure. The world is changing quickly, and we are globally connected,’ said Myers. ‘Therefore, from a business aspect, I need to know more about other cultures and ways of conducting business.’
Studying in China seems to be unusual, but it is becoming more and more common in the globalizing world.
Both students described the people, food, and culture in China as dramatically different from the U.S. Myers, however, explained that the degree of westernization, particularly in Shanghai, is rapid. He said many articles of Western clothing and food products could be found in the stores.
‘It makes me wonder when the world grew up so fast,’ he said. ‘While living here, my brain needs to be a sponge.’
The biggest issue for two CSUN students has been not being able to communicate as regularly as they would speak in English. That is what they have to overcome foremost. A language barrier exists, so accomplishing even the simplest task can be challenging.
‘My goal is to learn the Chinese language while developing my network,’ said Myers. ‘I hope to work for an international business firm here.’
‘My goal while in China is not only to work on stories as a journalist but also to speak the language semi-decent before my year here is over,’ DiGerolamo said. ‘Other than the language barrier, the food is amazing and the people are great. I do wish I could grab an In-and-Out burger sometimes though, but I think I will be OK.’