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Purdue center to build bridge from Midwest to China

September 3, 2003

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A new Purdue University center will develop and facilitate exchange programs in China, serve one of campus' largest international student populations and build a bridge between American and Chinese businesses.

"Purdue University has a rich history with China, starting with the first Chinese student who graduated from Purdue in 1910," says Wei Hong, co-director of the Purdue University China Center and associate professor of Chinese in the foreign languages and literatures department.

"This center will foster an even stronger relationship by facilitating study abroad and internships for Purdue students in China and other Chinese-speaking regions, including Taiwan and Hong Kong, assisting Chinese students with adjusting to American lifestyle and aiding economic development by sponsoring cultural seminars for businesses."

The center will sponsor a Chinese student orientation from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday (9/6) in Stewart Center, Room 314. Students from China compose the second largest international student population at Purdue. About 800 students from China are studying at Purdue this year. India sends the largest group.

A planning meeting for businesses to learn more about the new center is being planned for October.

The center also will sponsor a tea-hour series about Chinese culture for all Purdue students and staff. The series will meet from 3-4 p.m. every Thursday, starting Sept. 4, in Stanley Coulter Hall, Room 131. The China-related topics will include minorities, stamps, medicine, puppet shows, opera, paintings, modern literature, tourism and food. Tea and Chinese snacks will be served.

In October, the center will sponsor a Chinese speech contest for all native English speakers who are taking Chinese classes.

Representatives from the schools of Liberal Arts and Consumer and Family Sciences, as well as Purdue's Office of International Programs, are involved in the center. The Chinese Ministry of Education also will work together with the center. The center also will be open to working with the local Chinese community, as well as Purdue's Chinese alumni and student groups.

"This center will be very service oriented, especially for companies in the Midwest," says John Schneider, assistant vice provost for industry research/outreach. "Since 9/11 we have seen how global our world is and the importance of a stronger understanding of each other's cultures. I am surprised when I visit China to learn that the people think Americans are very violent. The center can work with Chinese students and companies to dispel that misunderstanding, which is largely the product of our movies."

Liping Cai, co-director of the center and associate professor of hospitality and tourism management, says American businesses also need to adjust their misperceptions of Chinese culture.

"American businesses must learn to work with and understand other cultures by doing business in ways that are appropriate to these cultures," Cai says. "China is becoming more confident in dealing with other countries and expects respect and understanding of its own cultures. Americans cannot be doing business in China as they were 20 years ago.

"Also, assuming China is one culture is naive," he says. "It is a huge country, and the cultures vary between each geographic region. The resources and expertise at the China center can help Americans to learn more about those differences."

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Sources: Wei Hong, (765) 494-3859,

John Schneider, (765) 494-5532,

Liping Cai, (765) 494-4739,

Note to Journalists: Journalists are invited to attend the first cultural orientation for new Chinese students at 2-5 p.m. on Saturday (9/6) in Stewart Center, Room 314.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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