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Speech knows no boundaries

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Jim Johnson, outgoing Minnesota State College–Southeast Technical president, addressed a graduating class Thursday which is something he’s done many times before. This time, however, an ocean, a 13-hour time difference and another language separated Johnson from the graduates.

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Johnson gave the speech via Skype to the graduating mechanical engineering students of Quzhou College of Technology around 9 p.m. from the Winona campus, which the students heard at their graduation ceremony at 10 a.m.

The college is in Red Wing’s sister city, Quzhou, China, and the schools have partnered on various faculty exchanges, something which Johnson mentioned in his address.

“One of the major goals of this developing relationship is to gain a better understanding of each of our respective cultures through faculty, staff and student interactions,” he said. “This cultural understanding is an absolutely necessary skill set for all of us working in this vast global environment.”

Wang Pei Hui, Quzhou College English professor who visited the Red Wing and Winona campuses for two months in the fall, translated Johnson’s speech for the graduates.

Quzhou instructors plan to visit Southeast Technical this fall and student exchanges between the colleges will begin in spring of 2015.

“Words cannot express how much we have appreciated the generosity shown by students, staff and faculty of Quzhou College of Technology towards myself, our visiting scholars and others over the last few years,” Johnson said.

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