China has become a hot attraction to an increasing number of American students who seek an interesting place in which to further their education. There are now an estimated 10,000 US students enrolled in programs in China which represents a fivefold increase over ten years ago. According to the Institute of International Education, China is now the seventh most popular destination for American students who seek to study abroad. If the trend continues, at some point in the coming decade more American students will be studying in China than in traditional places like Great Britain, Italy or France. Brian Harley, Purdue’s associate dean for international programs, notes, “There’s a sense that it’s a cutting edge destination where they can be among the first to learn firsthand about another culture.”
Fortunately, for the Americans, there are now many Chinese professors who have been educated in the United States and thus language issues are much less of a problem. Add in the lower cost of education in China, and it is apparent why thousands of Americans are going eastward.
Initially, Americans seeking to learn Chinese attended schools in that country, but now, there are students from virtually all areas of knowledge who have gone to China in search of new meanings and hopes. In China, they have encountered a generation of serious and hard working students who want learning in a manner that had previously not been common to Americans. Perhaps, for the first time, the interaction has been two sided.