Sixty Yale students and 40 members of the faculty and administration will travel to China for 10 days in May at the invitation of Chinese president Hu Jintao.
Two students from each residential college and professional school, as well as six from the Graduate School, will be selected to go on the trip, administrators said. A majority of the students and faculty spots will be reserved for those who do not speak Chinese and have never visited China, administrators said.
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The Chinese government and Yale began planning the trip after Hu announced his invitation during a visit to Yale last spring. The costs of the trip will be covered by Yale and the Chinese government.
Each college and school will have its own application process to select students who wish to participate, and faculty members will be selected in a similar manner, said Donald Filer, Yale’s director of international affairs, whose office is planning the trip. Students who have never been to China and do not speak Chinese will be given preference, but the administration will reserve space for students who are Chinese nationals or have a demonstrated interest in China’s language and culture, Filer said.
While the full agenda for the visit has not been worked out, the Yale delegation will sightsee and meet with Chinese students and government officials — though it is currently unclear whether the Yalies will have an audience with Hu himself, Filer said.
“We are at that stage where we have sketched all of this out and all that needs to be done between now and then,” Filer said. “We don’t have all the answers, but we will figure all the different pieces out over the course of the next few weeks.”
Each residential college will nominate one freshman, one sophomore and two alternates. Some colleges have already announced their application procedures to students. In an e-mail message sent Monday night to Calhoun College students, Calhoun master Jonathan Holloway said he and Calhoun’s dean, Stephen Lassonde, will select “open-minded students who will be good travel companions and for whom this visit may be an opportunity quite unanticipated,” and will make their decisions based on 250-word essays submitted by the applicants.
J.T. Kennedy ’09, who has been to China three times and is thus ineligible to apply, said that while he understands opportunities should be provided to students unacquainted with China, he is frustrated that students like him will not be able to participate.
“I still question whether or not it’s advisable for the administration to exclude a sizeable part of the student body in sending a delegation,” he said.
But Kristen-Elise Brooks ’08 said the University provides plenty of other opportunities to visit China for the juniors, seniors and students with prior exposure to Chinese who are not eligible for this particular trip. She said she read about the opportunity in the Berkeley College newsletter but was not disappointed that as a junior she will be unable to apply.
“There are a lot of programs at Yale that are restricted by class,” she said. “But there are equally as many programs for juniors and seniors.”
The Office of International Affairs said it hopes a roster of participating students and faculty will be finalized by mid-February.