Monday, September 30, 2013

Meet Visiting Professor - Jun Zhao

Anne-Marie Ruttenbur and Jun Zhao.
There are some big differences between life in Beijing, China and Gallatin, Tennessee and it's a subject Chinese professor Jun Zhao takes not only a personal interest in, but also a professional one. She's doing research in cross-cultural communication, comparing three places: the United Kingdom, China and the United States. She normally works at Beijing City University, but her studies have brought her here, to Vol State.

"The culture is similar between the UK and America," Zhao said recently. "The food and culture are similar."

And her first impressions of Tennessee?

"There's a large variety of land here and very few people compared to Beijing and China. People here are very friendly."

Zhao will be a fixture on the Vol State campus for the next year. She is visiting through a program with the Confucius Institute at MTSU. The Confucius Institute is an international Chinese project to share faculty with colleges and university across the globe. It's just the next step in a growing relationship between Vol State and the Confucius Institute being cultivated by the Vol State International Education program.

"Gallatin is the first place for me to reside in the United States, and it is very cozy. The students here are interested in China and Chinese culture."

Mrs. Zhao has been on a whirlwind tour of classes across campus, meeting with students and faculty. The long term goal is to have her teach here on the academic side. While the International Ed folks work with SACS on her credentials she will start with Continuing Education classes, including Chinese cooking, simple Chinese daily expressions, Chinese culture and eventually Chinese art classes.

"As we develop with infrastructure this could be a continuing thing," said International Education Coordinator, Anne-Marie Ruttenbur.

Zhao has a son who has also traveled the globe as part of his education. He began studies in Beijing and continued in Manchester, England. He is now taking classes at Rutgers University in News Jersey in financial mathematics.

For now the visiting professor is staying with Ruttenbur and her family. She is looking into an apartment or house rental. Look for events and opportunities to meet her in coming weeks.

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