China

Building Our Global Community is a certificate program offered by International Programs in collaboration with UI Learning & Development that educates University of Iowa faculty and staff about the experiences of international students and scholars, and methods in which they can foster our increasingly intercultural campus community. Participants who complete the series of sessions (one “core” course and four electives) earn a certificate that demonstrates their commitment to supporting international students and scholars in the classroom and workplace.

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Leaders from Academic Studies Abroad Global met with leaders from the Iowa City area on Monday afternoon to discuss business opportunities and to sign a “memoranda of understanding.”

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More robust orientations planned as signs point to a softening of international enrollments

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Back in Iowa City after half a year in Beijing, I am struggling with re-adjustment. The process goes like this: watch four Star Wars movies on the flight back, half-heartedly suggest family Easter dinner at the Beijing Buffet on the Coralville strip, get car towed because a certain private parking lot has strengthened enforcement protocols, swerve at the sight of newly sprouted condominiums three houses down from my home, scroll through photo albums of China adventures, obsessively check friends’ WeChat updates, try to retrieve the part of me that is still sleeping and waking in Beijing time. Perhaps retrieval will come by way of writing and reflecting.

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Built on East Art Gallery Street in 1996, the 24-hour bookstore is known by many readers as their “spiritual home” and a place in which to soak for an entire day. A bubble bath of 90,000 books stacked in a space of 1400 square meters. There are at least twenty different annotated versions of Journey to the West, one of the four great classical novels of China. A 513-page guide to polyphonic Mandarin characters can be found in an aisle devoted to dictionaries. Copies of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant are tucked away in random nooks. Books with titles like The Story of Art and The Story of Time convey the immense ambition in this place.

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Study abroad is a perfect opportunity to translate oneself in a foreign country, in a strange language, in unfamiliar roosts. You may just discover a way to add another layer of meaning to your brand. No, despite what the Chinese supermarket said, you can’t actually buy life. But maybe you can rebrand it.

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Yu Hua, considered by many to be China’s greatest living author, begins his remarks with a joke. Brothers, a novel he calls his most important, has received critical acclaim abroad but encountered mixed reviews at home. International critics, under the pretense that Chinese critiques of the book were government-sponsored, flock furiously to the novel’s defense. In fact, Yu Hua sheepishly concludes, the negative assessments were offered spontaneously and freely by the Chinese public.

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Chinese students at the University of Iowa continue to try making do in a system that isn’t tailored to them, from the admissions process to academics and life on campus, despite moves by the university and others over the past several years to make life more pleasant for them in the United States.

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Part I. Tell Me How I’m Supposed to Breathe in This Air

The first thing I check every morning is the U.S. Embassy’s AQI (Air Quality Index). This Tuesday, the AQI reads “beyond index” (>500 AQI), which is a diplomatic way of saying “deathly.” The annoying lump in my throat and its companion “Beijing cough” reappears. When I look outside, I wonder if I have been transported back to the 1950s to London’s Smog Menace when couples kissed with their masks on and people relied on the blind to lead them home. I can’t help but question why I chose to study here, a decision that will probably cost me in life expectancy.

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When teachers, mentors and professors describe Jeffrey Ding, there's not just one thing that stands out. On Sunday, the West High graduate and University of Iowa senior was announced as one of 32 American winners of the 2016 Rhodes scholarship, out of 869 applicants. He's also a former U.S. State Department intern, UI student government vice president, national high school debate champion and triple major in economics, political science and Chinese — and he's also getting a certificate in international business.

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