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US students experience sharp learning curve in Shanghai
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When talking about Chinese history and culture, US student Timothy Gray can hardly conceal his joy and passion.

Students from the United States learn Taichi at Fudan University in Shanghai on June 15, 2011.
Students from the United States learn Taichi at Fudan University in Shanghai on June 15, 2011.

"I like China so much and really want to know more about it," said the 23-year-old, majoring in Chinese language and literature at the University of Georgia.

He is now on a scholarship program at Shanghai-based Fudan University, funded by the Shanghai municipal government.

The one-month program, which started on May 29, includes a wealth of resources and activities for students to better understand China.

"Previously, I could only focus on the study of language, but here I have an opportunity to understand the country and its people deeply, in every aspect of their life," Gray said.

The scholarship program is part of the Chinese government's efforts to echo the "100,000 Strong Initiative" proposed by US President Barack Obama in 2009, which aims to increase the number of US college students studying in China to 100,000 within four years, according to Yang Zengguo, director of the university's Foreign Students Affairs Department.

"In addition to studying Chinese every morning, we have also arranged a series of theme lectures on China's history, society, diplomacy and culture," said Qiao Fei, a lecturer at Fudan University.

"Teachers here are very knowledgeable, and from them we get a thorough knowledge and understanding of China," Gray said, "And I think their views on China and its role in the international community are very objective."

Whenever he is free, Gray likes to talk to local people in Chinese.

"These people are very nice and interesting. From talking with them, I get to know how Chinese people see their country and its economic growth, as well as how they see the US," he said.

Williams Kenneth, 19, from Pepperdine University in California, said: "Shanghai is a very innovative city, and people here are working hard and live life at a very fast pace."

"I found students here are very focused on their studies," he added.

"In the US we say everyone has an 'American dream', while in China I can see everyone, from students to workers, has a 'Chinese dream'. They are trying to realize their dream," he said.

Apart from learning Chinese calligraphy, seal carving, paper cutting and how to make dumplings, students also have the chance to travel to nearby cities.

"Before I came here, I thought the United States was the most welcoming country in the world. But I've found that China is very welcoming and open," said Nathaniel Stone, 20, from the University of Georgia.

Earlier this year, China's Ministry of Education approved a Sino-US Humanities Exchange Scholarship, which aims to attract 10,000 US postgraduates and PhD candidates to study in China by 2013.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2011)

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