Chinese welcome huan ying

Welcome (Pronounced Huan Ying)

A student ambassador program enabled Women’s College students to experience the other side of the world – and build a bridge between Chinese and American educational cultures.

In May, eight Brenau University student ambassadors embarked on an 8,000-mile journey to Wuhu, China, to meet some of their future Brenau classmates: about two dozen early childhood education majors at Anhui Normal University who will transfer to Brenau in the fall 2016 term. The Chinese students are part of a “2+2” partnership in which they and those who follow them will start their undergraduate studies at ANU, then finish the last two years at Brenau. The Americans were picked to be a ready-made social network to help their Chinese classmates adjust to student life in the United States in a vastly different higher education culture.

“We want to help the Anhui students adjust as quickly as they can,” said Jordan Anderson, director of international students and programs. “One of the best ways to achieve that is to get our current students involved.” Anderson, a Mandarin speaker who’s familiar with Chinese culture, prepped the handpicked American group during a special course in Chinese culture, customs, language and history. Once they got to China, students from both universities met face to face, sat in on Anhui classes together and explored the surroundings of Wuhu and Anhui Province. The ambassadors resume their roles as mentors this autumn, when the first wave of Chinese students begin attending classes at the Gainesville campus.

“We are going to help the students integrate into Brenau life and encourage them to attend events, join clubs and open themselves up,” said Emma Jaczko, a sophomore from Peachtree City, Georgia. “Melding different cultures and ideals can lead to a more knowledgeable university.”

Also aiding the Anhui students when they move into Brenau University’s Gainesville campus this fall will be South Carolina-based ON Language. The company will offer its flagship program ENHANCE to help acclimate the students to American higher education culture through real-world application of English language skills.

“With Brenau University’s intense emphasis on broadening its students’ international experience through both studies abroad and encouraging students from other countries to study here, it is vitally important that we provide services that will help both groups succeed,” said Ray Tatum, Brenau vice president for enrollment services. “The ON Language founders have a splendid track record of helping non-native English speakers gain higher comfort and confidence levels in their day-to-day communications in the United States.”

Once on campus, Residence Life will then pair each Anhui student with an American roomie.

“It gives the roommates a chance to learn from each other,” said Erin Henderson, a pre-physician assistant junior from Snellville, Georgia, who was among the eight Brenau students to visit Wuhu earlier this year. “I think this program will help diversify campus, and will make students more aware of different cultures.”

The “2 + 2” program also gives Brenau professors an opportunity to broaden their horizons as instructors at Anhui. Among the faculty members who have recently visited China include Professor of Physical Science Rudi Kiefer, who documented his monthlong stay in Hefei, China, in a multimedia blog at

Front row from left: Lakese Brown, Amanda Buchanan, Sara Morales, Wynter Furse. Back row from left: Emma Jaczko, Allie McConnell, Erin Henderson, Amanda Smith
Front row from left: Lakese Brown, Amanda Buchanan, Sara Morales, Wynter Furse. Back row from left: Emma Jaczko, Allie McConnell, Erin Henderson, Amanda Smith

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