Adapting to the Changing International Education Environment – The Beijing Center
Although the global education environment is ever-changing, the on-going COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges that have prompted institutions to expand their teaching and learning methods. While these new ways have positive effects, they have also disrupted student mobility and given rise to assessment and accreditation constraints and jeopardized educators’ and students’ academic pursuits. Along with many institutions, The Beijing Center (TBC) – the only Jesuit center and intellectual hub in mainland China – has implemented new ways to educate students and create cultural exchange opportunities.
This fall marked the inaugural Pathway Program for mainland Chinese high school graduates to begin their college studies at TBC, while preparing for their plans to transfer to a four-year institution abroad. The Pathway Program freshmen students partake in English-taught core, foundational courses, service-learning, seminars and activities that introduce them to Jesuit education and prepare them for college success and cultural adaptation. TBC recently welcomed the first cohort for the fall 2020 semester and is actively establishing transfer admission agreements and collaborations (most recently with Marquette University, Loyola Marymount University, College of the Holy Cross, and Saint Joseph’s University).
Beginning this past summer, the Virtual Internship Program was designed to offer students from around the globe the opportunity to enhance their professional experience during quarantine. As part of the program, students work with an internship coordinator that places them with a Beijing-based company, contingent on their interests, skills, and professional goals. Students work on assigned projects during the virtual internship while attending online classes and workshops on career development, resume building, Chinese culture, economy, and the business environment. At the end of the internship program, interns participate in the Virtual Internship Showcase, highlighting their experience through a virtual presentation. So far, TBC’s virtual internship program has welcomed students from Sanata Dharma U., Marquette U., and Loyola Marymount U. and is currently accepting applications for Spring 2021.
Additionally, this fall 2020 marked the launch of ChinaChat, an online Mandarin language program open to students and faculty impacted by travel and study abroad constraints. Having over 20 years of Chinese-teaching experience, TBC created a hybrid Mandarin language course featuring online live classes and pre-recorded videos on various scenarios useful for different everyday communication. This year, ChinaChat has received participants from our AJCU and AUSJAL networks and is currently working with Javeriana Cali on a ChinaChat program to support their Chinese language teaching initiatives.
While online teaching and learning is practical and can provide a beneficial experience, recognizing the challenges and constraints, as well as the benefits, has allowed The Beijing Center to embrace this transformative period. With this recognition at the center of the decision-making process, TBC has tailored its learning experience, integrated new approaches, and constructed additional learning assessment methods and initiatives to support our students and IAJU partners.
Founded in 1998, The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies is a center of higher education in Mainland China committed to fostering mutual understanding between China and other cultures through cultural exchange, education, and research. What makes TBC unique is its placement in a long and storied tradition of Jesuit education, one that teaches that true cultural engagement starts first with friendship.