By Fawn Wang
As a native of China and someone closely involved in Yale's efforts to foster excellent relations with China, I am gratified at the expansiveness - and warmth - of the University's support for Chinese students and scholars. This commitment is not surprising for a University whose cordial relationship with China and the Chinese people is centuries old. Yale University is the alma mater of Yung Wing, the first Chinese student to graduate from an American university. Since China opened her doors to the world, Yale University has further contributed to the country's progress, helping to educate thousands of influential and capable leaders in the fields of education, management, economics, and the judicial system in China and who are making great contributions to their native country.
In 2001, Yale University celebrated its own 300th anniversary. Yale President Richard C. Levin visited China that year and met with Chinese President Jiang Zemin at Zhongnanhai. Upon returning to Yale, President Levin was so enthusiastic about partnerships with China that he devoted his address at the Yale College graduation to the subject. Foreseeing future developments, he highlighted the importance of China to Yale's goal of becoming a university with a global scope. Yale University continues its efforts to facilitate China's and its own development through joint academic, business, and research collaborations. In the past year, President Levin visited China three times, gauging the needs of the country and meeting with government officials, business and academic leaders.
Currently, Yale has more than sixty academic collaborations and study sites across China. No other American university has so many collaborations at so high a level, and across so broad an area of subjects. This year, responding to China's fast-paced economic and social development, the University hosted three leadership training programs: one for university presidents, one for government leaders and one for business leaders. President Levin himself, along with Vice President Linda Lorimer and many other senior administrators, gave presentations.
For its international graduate students from China and other nations, Yale University offers an exceedingly generous financial aid package. In addition to free tuition and health care, the university provides an annual living allowance of at least US$18,000 (excluding summer stipend support). Yale works hard to accommodate the needs of its international students outside the classroom and lab, including helping them with housing needs. Yale's Office of International Students and Scholars is a most helpful resource for all of Yale's international students. [Vice President Lorimer, who is in charge of Yale's Office of International Affairs, also has responsibility to help support Yale's connections with China and Chinese students.] Studying abroad presents challenges, and sometimes an individual student or a group of international students may express a complaint or a concern about their academic or living environment. Yale takes such expressions seriously and works diligently to resolve them as soon as possible, underscoring Yale's goal to have all students thrive in their studies and take full advantage of the many opportunities offered by Yale.
In addition to supporting international students while they are at Yale, the University has worked hard since the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001 to help its students regarding visas. President Levin and his Yale colleagues have made it a priority to ensure that international students who wish to study in the United States do not have to experience unnecessary delays in obtaining visas. This effort has led to significant improvement in the visa process for students.
I recently read an article written by Gao Zhikai, a Chinese student studying abroad who graduated from Yale. His positive reflections of Yale and the United States resonated strongly with me and I urge you to read his insights. I have studied, worked, and lived in the United States for many years now. I, too, have had my share of difficulties to overcome. I believe Yung Wing provided us with an excellent model to emulate. He served as a bridge between two cultures, receiving an education in the United States and educating his colleagues about China.
Today, Yale hosts 600 students and scholars from China. This great number of Chinese reflects the wonderful educational opportunities offered by Yale, and the welcoming environment that Yale has created for its international students, students who offer a valuable perspective to their fellow members of the Yale community as they pursue their studies and research.
(The author is an assistant secretary of Yale University)
(China.org.cn November 14, 2005)