In only its second year, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures’ Chinese program at The University of Southern Mississippi has grown to 34 enrolled students participating in the beginning and intermediate levels in Chinese.
“There is a much stronger level of interest and enrollment than I had anticipated, and this augurs well for the sustainability of Chinese students on campus,” said Dr. Leah Fonder-Solano, associate professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
Fonder-Solano is excited about what the future holds for Southern Miss’ Chinese program, and is hopeful that student enrollment will continue to rise. The program has been extremely successful since its establishment. “This is pretty amazing given that last year was the program's first year,” said Fonder-Solano.
One element of the program at Southern Miss is its exchange agreement with Linyi University in China. Each year, Southern Miss sends instructors to teach at Linyi University, and in return, Linyi University sends instructors to teach at Southern Miss.
Wang Cong-Cong is the current visiting scholar for Chinese language this fall. Cong-Cong has been an instructor in China, Thailand, South Korea, and for the first time this fall, in America. She arrived at Southern Miss in August and is teaching students beginning and intermediate levels of the Chinese language. She will return to Linyi University in December.
Due to considerable student interest, Cong-Cong currently has 26 students enrolled in basic Chinese and eight intermediate-level students. “So many students are interested in learning Chinese and learning about Chinese culture. I’m so happy and excited. Both classes I teach are nearly to capacity,” said Cong-Cong.
One of the goals for Chinese program is the establishment of a Confucius Institute for Chinese language and culture on Southern Miss’ campus in partnership with Linyi University. Linyi University offers scholarships for juniors and seniors to study at Linyi, as well as paid internships for Southern Miss graduates to teach English.
Dr. Christopher Miles, interim chair of the Foreign Languages and Literatures department, explained the importance of the partnership with Linyi University.
“People have already referred to the 21st century as the Chinese century. So, being able to offer courses in the Chinese language allows students to understand the Chinese mindset and prepares them to be competitive at the global level,” said Miles.
“Being able to study the language here at Southern Miss and then go and live in China to refine your language abilities and possibly teach English, while immersing yourself in their culture, is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
For more information about any of the programs offered in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, visit www.usm.edu/foreign-languages-literatures.