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Study in China key to future careers: American students

To a growing number of US students in China, study in the ancient country is no longer just a cultural experience it has become an important part of their future professional careers.
Sam Gor, a 26-year-old student from Santa Clara, a county near San Francisco, said the purpose of his studies in Beijing was to help him find a good job when he goes back to the United States.

"Culture matters," he said. "But more importantly, to learn Chinese and get a better understanding of the country may help me professionally."

As a new student at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), Gor hopes to find a job in Santa Clara's local government when he goes back home in one year. "I need to learn Chinese if I want the job, as we have a large Chinese community there."

Gor is not alone in his thinking. While the number of US students in China has grown from less than 100 in the early 1980s to more than 10,000 currently, many of them are here to learn a professional skill as much as to enjoy a new culture.

"In the past, foreign students came to China merely for our culture," said Xu Qiuhan, director of BLCU's foreign students office. "But because of China's rapid economic and social development, being able to speak Chinese has become a useful tool to students' future careers."

She says her university, which attracts the largest number of foreign students in China, has witnessed a soaring number of US students in the past three years.

"The figure last year reached 452, tripling that of 2003," she said.

"And unlike in the past when the majority of US students in China were Chinese descendants, we see more US students of western origins," she added.

And there are more US students who choose to stay in the country instead of going back after graduation, Xu said.

Stephanie Schubmehlo, a 23-year-old from Rochester, New York State, said she would like to stay in Beijing after graduation.

"I love the city, and I can earn myself a living here if I can speak good Chinese," she said, adding that some of the US students she knows shared the same idea.

Figures from the Ministry of Education show that there is a growing interest in learning Chinese in the United States.

More than 15,000 students in the United States are learning Chinese online with China's E-language learning system, said Cen Jianju, deputy director-general of the Department of International Exchanges and Co-operation at the Ministry of Education in Beijing.

He also mentioned that more than 1,500 US secondary schools have expressed an interest in the advanced placement Chinese Course and Exams.

"And US President Bush's National Security Language Initiative, which was announced in January, will further promote the teaching and learning of Chinese in the United States," he said.

 Source : China Daily  Editor: WuLin
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