We traveled to the International School of Business in Beijing early this morning and met with the students majoring in mass media.
Over the last year, Professor Andrew Leckey has been meeting and talking with students and the dean of the school in hopes of setting up an international exchange program for international business journalism. And after talking with the students today, I realize it would be to the benefit of those at both the Walter Cronkite School and the School of International Business to begin this type of program.
I feel this way because while talking with the Chinese students, I recognized two commonalities among them. The first was that they all, regardless of what career path they feel is best for them, have a strong desire to promote better cross-cultural communication. The second is that they all seem to be somewhat unfamiliar with the history of American journalism and of the fundamental workings of its role in the United States.
I spent most of my lunch hour talking with a Chinese student from Dali who goes by the American name of Serena. She chose the name because she enjoys watching the show Gossip Girls and said Serena is her favorite character. She asked me various questions about whether or not the American way of life mirrors that of what is portrayed in the show. Never having watched Gossip Girls, I wasn’t sure how to answer. I explained that television shows are typically an exaggeration of the stereotypical American lifestyles. We shared conversation about the barriers that both her and I have both experienced in communicating and understanding each other’s way of life.
Serena will be traveling to America this study to summer and I can only hope that during her trip, she is able to develop her own perceptions about the American culture. A few of her classmates traveled to America last year and detailed their experience.
One young man who called himself Jeffrey explained that when he visited America last summer, he was very overwhelmed by the political coverage.
“Journalism and politics are interesting in America,” he said. “I saw a lot of untrue stereotypes about China and also about the U.S., but through communication on both ends we can help this.”
This was a view shared by many students in the school. They were all willing and open to hosting American students at their university and spoke many times about how they hope that the friendships we made today would be everlasting.
Though I didn’t get her name, I remember the quote of one student that will forever stick with me.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, as long as we share the same interests, we are friends forever,” she said.
That quote, in itself, represents the type of relationships we have already begun to establish in China. And they are relationships that I am sure, will continue beyond the borders of our countries as we move forward in our journalism careers.