【Wenzhou Evening News】Connect China with Other Countries, Communicate with the World: Teachers and Students of WKU Make Bilateral Efforts on People-to-people Exchanges

People-to-people exchange is an important way to consolidate public support for Sino-foreign relations and improve the level of China’s opening up to the world. Universities are also pioneers in people-to-people exchanges with other countries. Recently, the 3rd list of Zhejiang International Culture Exchange Base was announced by the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and the Information Office of the Zhejiang Provincial Government, in which Wenzhou-Kean University was listed.

With a natural advantage for international culture exchanges, Wenzhou-Kean University (WKU) owns such people-to-people exchange research and communication institutions as the China-US Culture Exchange Research Center, the International Higher Education Research Center and the WKU Network Cultural Communication Training Base. All teachers and students of the university have participated in international culture communication, and foreign teachers from over 40 countries and regions worldwide, more than 4,200 student population and 7 classes of about 2,700 graduates (accounting for over 60%) have went to top universities in the world to receive further education. In each year, more than 100 students of WKU go to Kean University in the US to study as exchange students and spread Chinese culture.

Zhejiang DailyWenzhou Daily, the website of www.66wz.com and other media hereto successively reported WKU’s cultural exchange work as follows:

Foreign teachers tell Wenzhou stories in WeChat Moments

At WKU, there are foreign teachers from more than 40 countries and regions worldwide who can tell good stories about Wenzhou.

After Professor Maurizio Vrenna from Italy was selected as the “Envoy of Picturesque Zhejiang”, many people found that he updated a comment in his WeChat Moments with great joy: “It is a great honor to be recognized as one of the few “Envoys of Picturesque” in the Zhejiang Province for my efforts to enhance the transmission of Chinese culture and promote international cultural exchanges. I am receiving this esteemed prize on behalf of the University and City I represent, and I thank them for the occasions they are giving me.” Since 2015, Professor Maurizio Vrenna has been traveling between China and Italy. He is keen on learning Chinese and Chinese culture, loves traveling and explores ancient Chinese traditional thoughts and technical practices. In August 2020, he joined WKU as an Assistant Professor of Industrial Design. While working at WKU, he actively visited Yongjia County, Ouhai District, Taishun County and other places to learn about Wenzhou’s traditional cuisines and intangible cultural heritages, devoted himself to presenting the charm of traditional culture through design innovation. When he met with ancient Zeya papers, he led the team to deeply understand the production process of Zeya screen papers, and produced 5 exquisite lanterns by combining ancient Zeya papermaking technology with modern aesthetics. Professor Maurizio Vrenna always believes that culture has no boundaries, whether in his hometown of Italy or in Zeya, Wenzhou. Even though he is in China, he has the responsibility to protect and inherit these ancient techniques as possible as he can.

When talking about the culture of Wenzhou, Professor Mieke Paulsen Bahmer says the word “amazing” the most. “If I were asked to choose a most impressive intangible cultural heritage, my answer would be no, for they are all so amazing.” She describes her intangible cultural heritage tours in Wenzhou in this way.

Furthermore, Professor Toby Michelena has participated in the Wenrui Tanghe River governance project for many years, and he once led foreign teachers from the College of Architecture and Design to design filters for the Tanghe River. To make the Wenrui Tanghe River clearer is his work objective in Wenzhou.

Students are the major force in foreign exchanges

Students of WKU are also the major force in foreign exchanges. English teaching environment has cultivated their excellent English skills, they thus are able to play a positive role in Sino-foreign exchanges.

In September 2022, Li Xuan and Fang Haokun, WKU students exchanging in KU, sent a covered bridge model to Dr. Lamont Repollet, President of Kean University in the US, which makes further development to the “Covered Bridge Going Overseas – Kean Twin Bridge” program, a school-local cooperation program jointly launched by Taishun County and WKU. The program aims to bring global awareness to the traditional technique of constructing a wooden arch bridge, considered an intangible cultural heritage in China.

In addition, distinguished student representatives of WKU are also frequently involved in such international cutting-edge platforms as the Global Youth Leadership Training Camp, the Youth Leader Summit, and the World Youth Forum, carry out cultural and academic exchanges in various international events and show the demeanor of Chinese youth.

Teachers and students jointly create high-quality videos for cultural communication

WKU and the Office of Wenzhou Cyberspace Affairs Commission co-launched a bilingual video series of Find Wenzhou with Wenzhou-Kean University. This video series includes 3 episodes, namely A Humanist World Built Upon NatureTo Inherit, To Last and Wenruitang River: A Living River Runs for Thousands of Years. Combining academic research from home and abroad, the foreign professors from WKU take the audience through different cultures and find a different Wenzhou.

Two of them won the first and third prizes in the 2020 “Tell China’s Stories” Contest guided by the Information Office of the State Council and sponsored by the China International Communications Group, and the other one won the winning prize in the “Beautiful Zhejiang” International Short Video Contest. Moreover, they have also produced bilingual short videos such as Duffy & Wenzhou: Century-Old Stories to spread Chinese culture.

WKU people have always been committed to high-level people-to-people exchanges by multiple means. For example, they strive for an efficient exchange mechanism and rely on the university’s China-US People-to-people Exchange Research Center and the China-US Youth Maker Exchange Center to create brand projects for Sino-US people-to-people exchanges and friendly exchanges between the people. They promote friendly cooperation between Zhejiang and New Jersey, reinforce the people-to-people bond of China and the US, and further strengthen the construction of characteristic brands for foreign exchanges. Besides, they maintain every work to be perfect and continuously create the video series of Find Wenzhou with Wenzhou-Kean University, thereby forming a cultural communication brand with great influence on both domestic and overseas platforms.