Cultivating Chinese connections

By Lois J. Gray for Iowa Now


Suyun Ma is the first external global relations coordinator for UI International Programs. Photo by Tim Schoon.

Suyun Ma was strolling down the street in Iowa City last fall when she bumped into a famous Chinese writer.

The fiction writer and poet, A Lai, was participating in the University of Iowa’s world-famous International Writing Program. It’s the kind of encounter Ma says she never would have made in her hometown of Hangzhou, the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China with a population of more than 8 million people.

She later posted on Facebook, “One of the reasons I love Iowa City is that you may run into the best Chinese writers when walking on campus. This time, it's A Lai!"

Ma, who was recently hired as UI International Programs’ first external global relations coordinator, now uses Chinese social media platforms to communicate and cultivate stronger relationships with prospective Chinese students and their parents as well as UI’s growing alumni base in Asia.

The number of Chinese students studying at the UI has surged in recent years, reflecting a national trend, and the UI is a leader nationally in using these Chinese social media platforms.

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