A dozen students from the CSRA Chinese School sang a traditional song Tuesday as part of a program for visitors and patients in the lobby of Children’s Hospital of Georgia, a reflection of Augusta’s long and diverse Chinese history.
Georgia Regents University is seeking to deepen its own ties to Chinese universities and might call on Augusta’s Chinese groups to help, officials said.
The most tangible evidence of those new ties might come this fall when six Chinese nursing students enroll in the GRU College of Nursing, the result of more than a year of ongoing talks and negotiations with Jianghan University in Wuhan. It began after the dean of the medical school at Jianghan saw the interdisciplinary simulation center at GRU and expressed an interest in greater collaboration, said Dr. Lori Anderson, the associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Nursing, who also oversees the center. The Chinese university had just been consolidated itself a few years before and was just starting a nursing program. That led to greater talks and efforts to ensure that students at Jianghan could be accepted at GRU, Anderson said.
“A lot of work has gone into that to make sure that their curriculum actually prepares them to be able to transfer in,” she said. “They’ve met all of the core courses that any nursing student coming into Georgia Regents University would need to meet.”
They will be entering the bachelor of science in nursing program and would graduate in two years. The Chinese students “will not detract from any placement that we would normally offer to Georgia residents,” said GRU Vice Provost Roman Cibirka. “It will be something in addition to that.”
The enrollment follows the signing of a second formal memorandum of understanding with the Chinese university, which is typically the process, he said. Last fall on a trip to China, GRU officials met with and signed MOUs with five universities to begin talks on more formal collaborations, such as exchanges of researchers and MD/PhD students. What will come out of those talks is still awaiting final discussions, which will include visits to the GRU campus over the next several weeks, Cibirka said.
“We’ve had a lot of really good discussions and I think we’re probably really close with two-thirds of those” second agreements, he said. The university is also seeking to create a Confucius Institute there that can help foster cultural exchange but its application to the Chinese Ministry of Education is tied up with more than 400 worldwide seeking 70 slots, Cibirka said.
When Chinese students do come, the university hopes to connect them to the Chinese community in Augusta, he said. Some of those families can trace their roots back to Cantonese workers who arrived in the 1870s to help extend the Augusta Canal while others arrived in the 1970s and ’80s from Taiwan and Hong Kong. More recently, students came directly from China and are part of a large student association.
“We have been in discussion with the three Chinese associations that are in the community and want to build that warm and friendly environment that we would want if we were going over there for an extended period of time,” Cibirka said. “We want to make sure that the experience for the incoming student from China would be the best it can be on our campus but then also in our community.”
It will also be helpful for GRU students to have those students from another culture beside them in the classrooms and in the clinics, Anderson said.
“I think it is going to be an enriching learning experience both ways,” she said.