Fresno State hosted seven Media, Communication and Journalism (MCJ) students from Beijing Union University for nearly three weeks of cultural experience and learning that included lectures, off-campus excursions, and a whole lot of fun.

The “Media Communication and Culture in America” program was born out of many years of collaboration between Fresno State and Beijing Union University. The purpose of the visit was for the students to experience Fresno State, travel around California, and gain new perspectives on their future craft through a series of lectures. Dr. Sarah Lam, Assistant Vice President of International Affairs, and Cheryl Chan, Director of American English Institute hope the visit will serve as a template for summer programs for international students and inspire them to study at Fresno State.

This summer program is made successful through the support of Dean of the Division of Continuing & Global Education, Dean of College of Arts & Humanities, chair and faculty of the MCJ department, community organizations such as CMAC, Cumulus Radio, CSU Summer Arts, and many volunteering students.

Former TV news photojournalist, Professor of Practice at the Newhouse School in Syracuse, and CSU Summer Arts program guest artist Les Rose poses with students visiting from China.
Former TV news photojournalist, Professor of Practice at the Newhouse School in Syracuse, and CSU Summer Arts program guest artist Les Rose poses with students visiting from China. (Photo by Benjamin Kirk)

As for the students, they were thrilled with the entire experience. When asked what their impression of Fresno State and California, there was one common theme which came up repeatedly:

“In one word, it’s friendly,” said Jinpeng Mi, Beijing Union University student.

He went on to talk about how people would say “hi,” smile, and greet them as they walked by.

Beijing Union Sophomore Mukun Yuan agreed, “In China, the California sunshine is very famous. And when I came here, I actually [felt] the sunshine is warm and the people here are friendly.”

Beijing Union University students Mukun Yuan (left) and Jinpeng Mi (right)
Beijing Union University students Mukun Yuan (left) and Jinpeng Mi (right) – (Photo by Benjamin Kirk)

During their time at Fresno State, they attended a series of lectures from MCJ professors with topics such as ethics, the newsroom, the current climate of news, movies, and television.

“They were enthusiastic and engaged, especially during our conversation about American films,” said Fresno State MCJ instructor Dr. Kelley McCoy who lectured on movies and entertainment television produced in the United States. “I also found them to be warm and friendly — a joy to work with.”

McCoy said one of her favorite memories was when she showed a clip of the movie “Frozen.” One of the students said it was her favorite movie and began singing along.

“On the one hand, it underscored just how appealing U.S. cultural products are globally, but on the other, it showed how movies and music can be powerful bridges that bring people closer,” said McCoy.

Beijing Union University students pose with Fresno State's Dr. Kelly McCoy
Beijing Union University students pose with Fresno State’s Dr. Kelly McCoy
Fresno State MCJ Alumnus Carlos Perez discusses ethical issues in advertising and public relations with Beijing Union University students.
Fresno State MCJ Alumnus Carlos Perez discusses ethical issues in advertising and public relations with Beijing Union University students. (Photo by Prof. Betsy Hays)

During one of the classroom sessions on Ethics taught by Fresno State Professor and incoming MCJ Chair Betsy Hays, MCJ Alumnus Carlos Perez with JP Marketing was brought in as a guest.

“Carlos came at the beginning of class due to his schedule, and we spent the time after he left elaborating and illustrating some of what he discussed and looked at many examples,” said Hays. “It was most informative and enjoyable for all of us to talk about the differences between the rules for advertising in the U.S. and in China.”

The students were also able to venture off-campus for workshops at CMAC working with Training Coordinator Kyle Lowe on video projects.

“I most enjoyed the lectures from the professors because I’m a teacher too and I can learn a lot from them.” - Beijing Union University Instructor Huifan Wu.
“I most enjoyed the lectures from the professors because I’m a teacher too and I can learn a lot from them.” – Beijing Union University Instructor Huifan Wu. (Photo by Benjamin Kirk)

While the students all enjoyed the classroom experience, part of traveling to another part of the world is to experience new places and cultures. During their stay, the students went on excursions to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“We [had] some trips to L.A. and San Francisco. We [had] been invited to a professor’s house, and we [had] a swimming pool party,” said Beijing University Instructor Huifan Wu with a smile. “That [was] a lot of fun.”

Between the two trips, the group mainly recalled their experiences in Los Angeles.

“The trip to L.A. is very unforgettable I think,” said Yuan.

“In Los Angeles, we [went] to Hollywood Boulevard and [saw] the stars, the movie stars,” said Wu.

She went on to talk about Santa Monica Beach, saying, “That’s very beautiful. We [saw] the Pacific Ocean and the students [were] all crazy. And we [saw] the sunset there. It [was] beautiful.”

Beijing Union University students and Fresno State faculty and staff work together to make a festive farewell lunch on Wednesday, August 8th.
Beijing Union University students and Fresno State faculty and staff work together to make a festive farewell lunch on Wednesday, August 8th.

The nearly three-week excursion which began on Monday, July 23rd, came to an end on Wednesday, August 8th. Their last day was festive with a lunch made by the student for those who helped with the program and a final showcase of the student’s work.

“Based on conversations I had with the students and their professor after the lectures, as well as their comments at yesterday’s farewell party, the group’s experience at Fresno State was overwhelmingly positive, not only from an educational standpoint (what they learned) but on a deeply personal level,” said Mccoy. “I got the distinct sense that they formed immediate, close ties with those they worked with.”

“I couldn’t agree more!” said Hays. “This was a blessing to be a part of.”

When asked about her plans for the future, Yuan said, “I like it here. Maybe I think I will come back in the future.”

Still, when it came to an overall theme of their experience, thoughts seemed to float back to warm sunshine and smiling faces.

“The most important thing, I think is, the people here are nice,” said Wu, pausing, then adding with a quick nod and a smile. “Yeah, like the California sunshine.”

Beijing Union University students visit Fresno State
Beijing Union University students visit Fresno State (Photo by Benjamin Kirk)

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