JACKSON TWP.  Kent State University at Stark recently held a reception to say goodbye to 27 students from China who completed a semester of study on the Jackson Township campus. The sophomore and junior students came to study English as a Second Language (ESL) with a focus on business.

Outreach Program Coordinator of Global Initiatives at Kent State Sara Schmidt said most of the students are returning to their home country to complete their education and to work in China. Some of the students are planning to complete a Master’s in Business while some are planning to teach English in China.

"All of the students are English majors from two institutions that Kent State is partnering with in China; one is Beijing Wuzi University and the other is Shenzhen Polytechnic," Schmidt said. "The students arrived in Canton in August and spent the entire semester doing ESL, business writing and speech and debate coursework. Most are returning home to China (last week) and a few are traveling to other states before going home," she said.

Schmidt, teachers, and Dean Denise Seachrist and Assistant Dean A. Bathi Kasturiarachi got together in the lobby of Staybridge Suites with the students Dec. 18 for food and conversation before the students left. The students stayed at Staybridge Suites on Everhard Road through the semester. 

"While the Kent campus has a robust and integrated global program, Kent State at Stark is the first of the regionals to have a group of students come from China or other countries to study," Seachrist said. "The challenge for the regionals is that they don’t have housing or transportation. Our program started last year when we had 11 students, and this year we more than doubled that enrollment. We are already planning for more students to start the fall 2017 semester with us."

Kasturiarachi said the students from China spent the semester studying but had a chance to experience the culture of the United States. They also experienced family life in the U.S.

"The students participated in the Boo U held on campus every year, they also learned to carve pumpkins and they went home with one of the local students for a Thanksgiving meal," Kasturiarachi said.

Bowie is a student at Shenzhen Polytechnic and coming to Kent State was the first time she visited the United States. She said all of the professors and teachers were helpful and that her classwork involved doing many classroom presentations. Bowie feels her writing has improved over the semester.

She was impressed by downtown Canton and the arts district, the old churches and the restaurants.

"I thought SARTA was a really good and inexpensive way to get around the area, I liked many of the American restaurants and I enjoyed the food at Panda Express and Li Asian Cuisine," Bowie said.

Sophia Su is hoping to become a teacher and teach English at a college in China. She is attending Beijing Wuzi University. This was also her first time in the U.S.

"We get a lot questions about which foods we liked best and while we tried many of the restaurants; my favorite foods were pepperoni pizza and pepper jack cheese," Su said. "The professors have been really helpful especially when some of us got homesick. It’s been helpful that we’ve been able to Skype and do facetime with our parents in China while we’ve been here," she said.

Both students are planning to visit other states before returning to China. Bowie is going the San Francisco and Los Angeles. Su is going to New York City.