On Dec. 29th, the 2016 New Year Reception for Expatriates in Wenzhou was held at the Sheraton Hotel. The reception was sponsored by the Wenzhou Foreign and Overseas Affairs Office and Wenzhou People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and co-sponsored by the Wenzhou branch of the Zhejiang Foreign Service Corp. WKU Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Holger Henke and numerous faculty members, together with other expatriates in Wenzhou attended this splendidly organized and glamorous event.

Expatriates engaging in various occupations, including those from education, economy, trade, scientific, and technological circles, as well as foreign students attended this event. They hailed from the United States, Canada, Germany, India and other countries. As the invited guest-speaker, Dr. Henke addressed the event and stated, “I am well aware that internationalization is one of five goals that the City of Wenzhou is pursuing vigorously. It is part of a great transformation currently going on in China that aims to increase China’s role in the world as an economic and political player.” Elaborating on the possible consequences for Wenzhou, he further explained: “The growing presence of foreigners in your midst may also confront you with new questions for your identity and with some challenges to local culture. As someone working in higher education (da xue 大學), I would like to suggest that it is enriching and productive to encounter new questions. It is good for our self-cultivation (xiu shen 修身), our understanding of self and others. […] In this age of globalization, where we constantly have to re-define ourselves, reinvent and market our products, research our customers, and be responsive to their needs as individuals, as members of society and the human race, we have no other choice than to learn from each other, and get to know each other better.”

As a guest of honor, Lu Ye, an internationally known soprano and actress hailing who – among others – has performed in Carnegie Hall and for Pope Francis, was invited and she welcomed guests with a rendition of Bach/Gounod’s Ave Maria. Guests attending the event were also entertained by Chinese and Indian dance performances, as well as poetry and song by various local and international guests.

During the buffet reception, WKU faculty members interacted with other expatriates in a warm and friendly atmosphere. This event not only helped build and develop friendships between faculty and expatriates in Wenzhou, but also served as a platform for exchange and learning. The faculty members expressed their expectation to see more of these kinds of activities in the future.