In response to President Barack Obama’s 100,000 Strong initiative, 94 Michigan State University students studied in China in 2012-13, double the amount of students who studied there in 2010-11.
In 2009, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made the China 100K Strong vision more concrete by calling on higher education institutions to double their study abroad enrollment to China by 2014. Working with the U.S. State Department, MSU received two major corporate scholarship grants from the Coca-Cola Foundation and Amway Corp. MSU administers the Amway Corp. scholarship for universities in the Grand Rapids area, as well.
In addition to increasing American students studying in China, the 100K Strong initiative also seeks to develop opportunities and funding sources for underrepresented students.
“MSU has a long tradition of student retention programs that support student success,” said Brett Berquist, executive director of the Office of Study Abroad. “The Office of Study Abroad is focusing on the role study abroad can play in that success, particularly for high-need, first-generation and minority students.”
With the Coca-Cola scholarships, MSU launched a call for new programs focusing on retention. In summer 2015, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the College of Natural Science will launch a new program designed to help underrepresented students study entrepreneurship within complex agriculture and natural resources systems. The grant will fund students who otherwise may not have considered study abroad as part of their academic goals.
“I am thankful to Amway and other sponsors for awarding me with scholarships to be able to partake on this voyage to acquire knowledge on Chinese language and culture,” said Christopher Murphy, who was awarded an Amway Scholarship towards his study in Harbin, China, this summer. “In three weeks I will have been in China for two months. Every day is a mystery and I am finding ways to turn every second of my life here in China into memories of gold.”
Last fall, in the spirit of 100K Strong China, MSU co-produced a film directed by Crossing Borders Education titled “The Dialogue,” which was filmed in China. The film offered a chance for students to gain exposure and understanding of people from other cultures without studying abroad. It also provided an opportunity to explore the complexities of global and cultural diversity within a facilitated discussion.
Approximately 100 universities, community colleges and high schools organized 250 facilitated screenings of the film during International Education Week 2013, led by an MSU outreach effort, reaching 10,000 viewers. “The Dialogue” has now gone to the film festival circuit and will be released for commercial distribution in late 2014.