Chinese College Students Loving Texas Visit
By EMILY GUEVARA
The four Chinese women could not say enough good things about their time in Tyler.
"All of us love Tyler," 20-year-old Sunny Ruan said. "(It's) very small, very beautiful. (We love) the weather, the people, the culture."
Ms. Ruan is one of four university students from Qujing Normal University who are visiting Texas for about two months.
They're at the halfway point of their trip and have spent the past month in Tyler, with the exception of one student who arrived at a later date. For the next three weeks, they will travel around the state visiting a ranch, San Antonio, Austin and possibly Corpus Christi, among other possible stops.
Their visit is part of an ongoing cultural exchange between Tyler and the city of Qujing, China. Green Acres Baptist Church partners in the exchange.
The partnership includes exchanges on a variety of levels such as education, medicine and athletics, among other areas.
Andria Horton, a Green Acres missions assistant who has been working with the students, said they had to apply for the program and were selected based on their academic achievement and English ability, among other criteria. The students met several times in the fall and earlier this year in China to prepare for their visit.
The visiting students are Ms. Ruan, of Wen Zhou, a primary education major; Kate Zhuang, 22, of Qujing, an English major; Daisy He, 21, of Shangri-La, a chemistry major; and Vino Zhang, 20, of Kunming, an accounting major.
During their stay, they have audited classes at The University of Texas at Tyler. They also attended the Athens rodeo, the East Texas Symphony Orchestra and a Dallas Mavericks game, among other activities. A cooking class and visits to Dixie Elementary School also were a part of the experience.
Ms. Horton said the visit provides an opportunity to reciprocate the cultural exchange after many Tylerites have visited Qujing.
"We want it to be a true back-and-forth partnership where we learn from each other," she said.
Ms. Ruan said she has enjoyed practicing her English.
Students in China typically take six years of English in school starting at the middle-school level.
Ms. Zhuang said their UT Tyler classmates have been very friendly.
"The people here are very nice," Ms. He said. "In my hometown, all the people (are) very busy, so we don't have time to talk to (each) other."
Ms. He and Ms. Ruan said they thought based on American movies and Hollywood stars that Americans would be too busy and easily angered. They found quite the opposite.
"The people (are) so nice," Ms. Ruan said.
Ms. Zhang said she has most enjoyed eating Mexican food. The women also said they liked eating Chinese food here.
"I'm so surprised, foreigners can use chopsticks so professional," Ms. Ruan said with a laugh.
They said they love their host families and every time they move to a new family, which is about every two weeks, they cry. Each of the women has a talent they have shared at various performances during their visit. These include calligraphy, musical performances and dance.
Upon their return to China, the women will present information about their trip to their classmates and at least one professor.
They said it's difficult to pinpoint one thing that they will take away from this experience, but it will stay with them forever.
"I think almost the thing is (a) spiritual thing," Ms. Zhuang said. "You're going to remember it in your heart."