Approximately 20 faculty, administrators and staff from UCLA traveled to Shanghai to create new alliances and reinforce ties within the Bruin community in China with a weeklong series of events in one of the most dynamic cities in Asia.
We want to emphasize experiential learning. We hope students will get cultural fluency.
Representatives from the UCLA Alumni Association to admissions spent the week hosting an Asia Alumni Summit, talking to prospective students about enrolling, meeting with board members of the UCLA Confucius Institute and showcasing the creativity of UCLA students and graduates who are spending the summer in travel/study programs in Shanghai.
The culminating event of “UCLA in Shanghai” was a July 24 reception that brought together 150 alumni, faculty, staff and students, ranging from newly admitted students to current undergraduates. Many were participants in UCLA Travel Study’s two summertime programs in Shanghai.
Ralph Amos, assistant vice chancellor of alumni relations, led a rousing Eight Clap, a post-dinner crowd-pleaser. Guests were also charmed by a slide show showcasing “24 Hours in Shanghai,” a project for which 60 travel/study students spent one day canvassing the city and photographing their impressions. The resulting images provided a stunning overview of the color and diversity of a kinetic city that is home to an estimated 14 million people and whose dramatic skyline combines traditional Chinese pagodas with European colonial architecture and ultra-modern skyscrapers.
Global studies major Tom Parkinson-Morgan set out to take pictures of People’s Square for the assignment, but “stumbled on something cool” when he witnessed the street life on West Nanjing Road. For business economics major Kimberlie Shiao, the best part of the assignment was “seeing a city that changes all the time.” The hardest part for her, however, was “communicating with the Shanghainese who don’t necessarily speak Mandarin” and learning to cope with “how the Chinese line up for public transportation.” Her pictures highlighted Madame Tussauds Shanghai and other museums.
Each UCLA constituency during the weeklong celebration took a different approach towards making UCLA a more global presence. To one group, Yunxiang Yan, a professor of anthropology at UCLA and the Zijang professor of sociology at East China Normal University, stressed the importance of study abroad: “We want to emphasize experiential learning. We hope students will get cultural fluency.”
Speaking to guests at a reception, Bin Wong, director of the Asia Institute and a history professor, emphasized that students could get a broader perspective through study abroad. Alum Chris Lee, a feature film producer and entrepreneur who attended the alumni summit, said he had come to the event to seek out “opportunities for the alumni to work together to produce good business and charitable outcomes.”
Kathleen O’Kane, associate director of admissions, talked to prospective Chinese students at several successful information sessions. Recruiting international students, she said, will “strengthen the cultural diversity of the institution.”
Finally, Scott Waugh, provost and executive vice chancellor, emphasized leadership in talking to alumni about why campus leaders visited China.
“We want to make sure we are the leaders that we want to be," Waugh said. "We’re doing everything we can to enhance our international presence, and we’re working hard to build our alliances in Asia.”