Published: Nov. 11, 2013

MSU leads national conversation on integration of Chinese and American students

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu, Brett Berquist Office of Study Abroad office: (517) 432-4346 berquis6@isp.msu.edu, Dawn Pysarchik Advertising and Public Relations office: (517) 353-0650 pysarchi@msu.edu

As U.S. universities welcome a growing number of Chinese students, Michigan State University has co-produced a documentary about U.S.-China cultural exchange to foster international conversation about the importance of intercultural communication.

Special screenings of “The Dialogue,” a 70-minute documentary created by Crossing Borders Education and co-produced by MSU, come as higher education celebrates International Education Week. MSU held a screening at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Kellogg Center Auditorium and has also coordinated screenings at more than 200 universities, community colleges and high schools across the nation.

The film follows four American students – including an MSU graduate – and four Chinese students as they travel through Hong Kong and Southwest China. Along the way, they undergo culture shock, frustration and fear, but also learn to appreciate and understand their diversity and the role that culture plays in communication and understanding.

“It’s a captivating film that pulls the viewer into personal stories of navigating cultural differences and how important these are in our interpersonal communication,” said Brett Berquist, executive director of MSU’s Office of Study Abroad. “The toolkit of resources provided by MSU can help educational organizations facilitate valuable conversations on both sides of the Pacific and can be applied to any combination of cultural groups.”

“The Dialogue” responds to the Obama administration’s call to double U.S. study abroad enrollment to China – the China 100,000 Strong Initiative, Berquist said. It will help educational organizations prepare students for studying in either country, U.S. students undertaking an experience in China and Chinese students coming to the US. Two of MSU’s Hong Kong partner universities are organizing screenings for this purpose.

Arnd Wächter, managing director of Crossing Borders Films, directed the film. Other film makers are David Nelson, professor of film at New York Film Academy, and Troy Hale, a specialist with MSU’s Department of Telecommunications, Information Studies and Media.

In addition to Berquist, the production team included Peter Briggs, director of MSU’s Office for International Students and Scholars, and Dawn Pysarchik, project coordinator and professor of advertising and public relations. MSU also formed an advisory board comprising executives from NAFSA: Association of International Educators, National Geographic Television and the 100,000 Strong Foundation.

“There is a critical need for a new generation of individuals and future leaders who understand these cross-national challenges and have the capabilities, commitment and grit to address them,” Pysarchik said. “Through the medium of film, we’re contributing to the development of a globally competent network of students and employees.”

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