Southwestern students have been presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, to spend the spring semester of 2012 at Huangshan University in China. The university is located 240 miles southwest of Shanghai, and has about 14,000 students enrolled.

Dr. George Gangwere, professor of physics, is in charge of the semester in China program. Unfortunately, this program doesn’t seem to be much of a success so far. “Southwestern students just don’t seem interested. They all are involved in other activities and can’t take advantage of this opportunity,” he said.

Southwestern has a written agreement with Huangshan University that states each school exchanges faculty and students every semester. Six graduate students are currently here from Huangshan working on their masters in education.

“The Chinese people are eager to come to the United States and learn about American culture, while there doesn’t seem to be much interest for Americans to learn about Chinese culture,” Gangwere said.

Currently only two students from Southwestern have shown interest in the program. One of them is Krista Cross, marine biology junior. “I want to participate in the China program because I like the idea of traveling and experiencing different cultures,” Cross said.

The one drawback for her is that spending a semester abroad would delay her graduating by a semester. “The university doesn’t offer my necessary biology courses in English. It would be strictly for the experience, not so much based on education.”

If this program does not gain some serious interest, it won’t happen, but Gangwere hopes for more studying abroad opportunities in years to come. “Dean Andy Sheppard is trying to gain relations in other countries including Argentina, England and the Middle East,” Gangwere said.

Spending a semester in another country gives a college student an opportunity to learn another culture and language, one that is completely different from our comfortable American way of life.

“While students would lose their activity grant if they had one, it only costs $2,500 for the entire semester abroad and that includes airfare, room and board plus additional traveling, which is a pretty great price considering the experience you would be receiving,” Gangwere said.

Cooper Hart, theatre and liberal arts major with emphasis in Chinese studies junior, hopes this program will be a success. “I have been wanting to go to China to study for awhile now, to be in their school system and surrounded by people my own age.”

Hart has already been to China several times, once for two month internship with a Chinese company. As of now little interest has been shown and Hart thinks there is a big commitment factor associated with this trip. “It might be hard for people to dedicate a semester to something they really aren’t sure how serious they are about,” said Hart.

Due to lack of interest in the project, it will most likely be canceled soon. If you have any interest in spending the spring semester in China, contact Dr. Gangwere as soon as possible.

Alyssa Richardson is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at alyssa.richardson@sckans.edu.