Visiting scholar experiences life on the Mississippi
The night was clear, and with the rumbling of railroad cars surrounding him on both sides, Wang Pei Hui sat back on a sandy island in the middle of the Mississippi River and looked at the stars.
Days later Hui sat in a chair in the office of Brad Alsop, biology professor at Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical and recalled his experiences on the Mississippi, his hands spread wide as he told the tale of catching the biggest fish of his life.
Hui, known by his English nickname of Ben, said he plans to share this story, along with many others when he returns to his home of Quzhou, China, in a little over a month.
"I'm going to show my students my life here; life on the Mississippi, the State Fair, and the life of teachers here, because it's different," Hui said. "Before I came here I had no idea how you lived, how the college works. It's different, it's totally different."
Hui is the first to visit Southeast Tech from Quzhou College of Technology, and said he has been overwhelmed by the friendliness of everyone he has met.
Alsop, who was part of a group from Southeast Technical to visit Quzhou in September 2012, hosted Hui for his first two weeks in Red Wing. Alsop said while Hui will spend some time at the local campus visiting different classrooms as a guest lecturer, his time here is about more than just the world of academia.
"Even in China the Mississippi River is well known, so we want him to experience life along the river," Alsop said.
Quzhou, which has a population of around 2.5 million and is located southwest of Shanghai, is Red Wing's sister city in China, a relationship which spans 20 years.
The delegation from Southeast Technical, which included Southeast Technical President James Johnson, signed a memorandum of understanding with Quzhou College of Technology at that time to facilitate the exchange of faculty and students, as well as teaching ideas.
"Our colleges have similar missions and programs —nursing, automotive, CNC machining —so having these individuals visiting from China will be an invaluable learning experience for them and for us," said Ron Sellnau, vice president of academic affairs.
Hui, who teaches English to non-English majors in Quzhou, said he is here to learn and observe the different styles of teaching and work on some ways in which the two schools can collaborate on curriculum alignment.
Many of the schools in China have live classrooms with connections to schools in foreign countries, Hui said, and he is working on making that a reality with Southeast Technical as well.
One sticking point would be the 13-hour time difference between Red Wing and Quzhou, but he said with a little rearrangement of the schedules they could work to make morning classes here line up with night classes in Quzhou.
On Sept. 16 Hui made his way to the Winona campus of Southeast Technical where a colleague from Quzhou who is in the automotive department joined him, but Hui will return to Red Wing for one more week before he returns home.
"I heard the fall is very pretty," he said. "I'm looking forward to that."