During their 10-day trip to China in May, a delegation of 100 Yale faculty, administrators and students will mix sight-seeing with diplomacy.
A preliminary itinerary for the trip, released this week by the Office of International Affairs, includes trips to common tourist destinations in three cities as well as special meetings with top Chinese officials and opportunities to meet with faculty and students at several Chinese universities. The Yale delegation was invited to China by Chinese president Hu Jintao when he visited Yale last April. The cost of the trip will be covered by China and the University.
The delegation will visit Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai and will tour the Forbidden City and the Great Wall as well as numerous other museums and historical sites. The group will also meet with students and faculty at four universities, including Peking University in Beijing, which is home to the Yale-in-Peking program. Throughout the trip, the Yalies will also have an audience with local and national Chinese officials, including a meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
OIA director Donald Filer, who is involved in planning the trip, said the meetings at different universities will give faculty on the delegation an opportunity to begin collaborations with Chinese colleagues. He said it will also allow the group to better understand education in modern China.
“Our objective is to provide, as much as possible, opportunities for students and faculty to talk one-on-one,” Filer said. “Hopefully some long-term relationships could easily come out of those conversations.”
Filer said the trip was mostly designed to accommodate those travelers who have never been to China. The delegation will comprise 60 students and 40 faculty and administrators. The list of students, which was finalized in February, includes two students representing each residential college and professional school and six representing the Graduate School. Faculty members were nominated by their departments.
Craig Crews, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology who has never been to China, said he is looking forward to the trip, which will allow him to meet with Chinese scholars and students. He already has plans to visit with Chinese scientists to discuss his research on the effectiveness of a common ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine in treating polycystic kidney disease, he said. He said he also wants to see the universities that will supply graduate exchange students, as he is the co-director for graduate admissions for the MCDB department.
“I am going over, actually, with two hats on,” he said. “It will be useful to meet with researchers in China, and I would like to know more about the universities and faculty involved in putting [potential graduate students] forward.”
Students who have never been to China will have the opportunity to have discussions with their peers, Filer said. Stuart Symington ’09, who will represent Pierson on the trip, said he will compare Western depictions of the Chinese with his actual impressions. Symington said he speaks Japanese and is planning to major in East Asian Studies.
“I want to see the human side of China,” he said. “I am going to try to do some reading before the trip just to see how the portrayals of the officials and the students there match what I see.”