One of Ten Measures to Further Expand Wenzhou’s Opening-up—Create WKU as a Model of a China-foreign Cooperative University

On August 6 at the municipal Opening-up conference, Wenzhou-Kean University was listed as one of the ten measures to further open up Wenzhou. Participants at the meeting also decided to nuture WKU as a model of China-foreign Cooperative University. Dr. Toby Michelena, a Professor of Biology at WKU, was invited to speak at the conference as an expat representative. Also at the meeting, WKU was awarded the status as an advanced unit by Wenzhou municipal government.

The conference was hosted by Mr. Yao Gaoyuan, the Mayor and Deputy Party Secretary of Wenzhou. Municipal leadership members Mr. Ge Yiping, Mr. Yu Meisheng, Mr. Chen Hao, and Mr. Wang Beijiao, Chairman of WKU Board of Directors, also attended the meeting.

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Wenzhou Municipal Party Secretary Mr. Chen Weijun made important remarks at the conference. He called on the whole city to study and act on President Xi Jinping’s thoughts on opening-up and fully implement the spirit of the provincial opening-up conference. He noted that Wenzhou needs to push its opening-up by carrying out the “Ten Measures” and speed up to create a new pattern of Wenzhou’s all-round opening-up in the new era.

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Mr. Chen Weijun remarked that WKU is a significant process to promote Wenzhou’s education internationalization. The government will strive to help WKU to build itself into a world-class university featuring distinctive characteristics that enjoys reputation not only in Wenzhou, but also in Zhejiang Province and even nationwide, blazing a new trail of China-US partnership in education. He also noted that it is important to make full use of the advantageous resources and further enhance the University-local partnership. Moreover, the construction of supporting facilities for Kean Town shall also be enhanced to create a sound environment for WKU’s growth.

Dr. Toby Michelena, a Professor of Biology from WKU College of Sciences shared his experience in Wenzhou and WKU over the last three years. He said that WKU is a unique educational partnership between the governments of our two countries and a result of past initiatives in opening Wenzhou. He and other faculty will continue to contribute their parts to Wenzhou’s opening-up.

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Toby Michelena holds a Bachelor Degree in Marine Biology from Western Washington University and a Doctoral Degree in Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research area is in environmental toxicology.

Dr. Michelena came to Wenzhou in August 2015 and started teaching biology, environment science and sustainable development courses at WKU. In 2016, he led a team to start the research on the revitalization of Wenruitang River. This project was included in Wenzhou Water Pollution Control and Management Science and Technology Innovation 2016, and Wenzhou Public Welfare Science and Technology Plan 2016. Also in the same year, Dr. Michelena was awarded the “Yandang Friendship” prize by the city. In 2017, he was named as “the Greatest Contributor to Water Harnessing” by Wenzhou Municipal Publicity Department and the Municipal Water Conservancy Office.

924247783Below is the bilingual full text of Dr. Michelena speech

Distinguished Officials, Honored Guests, Good Afternoon.
On behalf of Wenzhou-Kean University and our faculty, it is an honor to be invited to speak at this important conference. The continued internationalization of Wenzhou is a vital step in opening of one of the most unique cities in China to the world. I, and other WKU faculty are excited to have a role in this process and continue to look for new ways to partner with the municipality to achieve this goal. As a unique educational partnership between the governments of our two countries, a result of past initiatives in opening Wenzhou, WKU is uniquely positioned to attract new and diverse resources to our campus and the greater Wenzhou area. As Wenzhou continues to modernize and open its doors to foreign investment, WKU can act as both a magnet to attract foreign interests to Wenzhou and as a beacon to shine the light of Wenzhou to the world.

In the last 4 weeks alone, WKU has hosted a gathering of students from Overseas Chinese Families to foster stronger ties between these families, their home town and their native culture. We have brought high school students from Wenzhou and surrounding areas together with university students from the United States for a summer science program, designed to foster the education and cultural exchanges on ecological and environmental issues that affect our community. We have sent students and faculty around the world to conferences and internships that serve as a dynamic demonstration of the vitality of WKU and Wenzhou. It is through activities such as these, when we bring people to Wenzhou and send our own community members to international venues, that we can expand the influence of Wenzhou.

We need to look for new ways and methods to take advantage of the unique relationship between Wenzhou Municipal Government, WKU and WKU faculty. Using my own work on the Wen-Rui Tang He as an example, collaborations between government and foreign interests will lead to new ideas and ways of thinking that will benefit all the citizens of Wenzhou. One partnership will lead to more ideas and outside interests will see the opportunities of working in Wenzhou and Wenzhou will reap the benefit of such collaborations. I believe that all it takes is a desire for individuals in local government and international organizations to take a chance on working with each other and a willingness to push the envelope of innovation.

From my own personal experience over the last three years, one of the great pleasures and frankly, surprises I have had is finding all the hidden historical and cultural treasures buried in Wenzhou. Like many people coming to Wenzhou for the first time, I was completely unaware of the deep historic and cultural significance of this region. From the uniqueness of Wenzhou hua to the foundations of Ou Opera to a long tradition of entrepreneurship and the recognized academic excellence in fields such as mathematics, Wenzhou has much to celebrate and to share. For me, Wenzhou becomes more fascinating each time I venture out and discover a new museum, cultural center or trail to hike in the mountains surrounding this beautiful area. It is the entrepreneurial nature of Wenzhou people that will attract the outside world to Wenzhou, but it will be a desire to be a part of the history and culture of this region that will keep people coming back.

Speaking for myself and other Wenzhou-Kean University faculty, we are excited by the opportunities we see in Wenzhou. We are anxious to build and expand our partnerships with the municipality, industries and other academic institutions to share our expertise and ideas. We want to be a part of the internationalization of Wenzhou. From being an anchor in the ongoing development of Kean Town to revitalizing the environment, WKU is an ideal partner to show the best of Wenzhou. There is much to be done, but through continued collaborations, a lot of hard work and with a willingness to embrace new ideas, the faculty of WKU are ready to help make Wenzhou a model of international cooperation, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Again, thank you for the invitation to speak today. Continuing to open Wenzhou while maintaining its historical and cultural uniqueness is a topic of great importance and a personal passion of mine.
Xie Xie

Editor | Jiang Haojie
Photos | Wenzhou Daily Chen Xiang
Translator | Greenberg Charles