Monday, July 25, 2011

China and the Douglas connection

Ask me what I learned from my recent visit to China for our partner-institution graduation ceremonies, and I would say this:

China is both highly developed and will always be a developing country.

I don’t mean that in the typical economic sense. What I’m referring to is a way of thinking that has very much in common with Douglas College.

Let me explain: Perhaps aside from the Cultural Revolution, China has always been an outward-looking nation, open to the world. Chinese history is not one of isolation, but one of trade and transportation, forever looking for new ideas and new ways of doing things.

So, when China opened its doors in 1978 after the Cultural Revolution, the policy of openness didn’t really reflect a radically new way of thinking for the country. It was more of a return to some of the original core elements of Chinese culture that China turned away from for a brief period.

That’s what I mean when I say China will always be a developing country: It will always be looking for ways to improve, grow and learn. In this way, it is both highly developed and will always be developing.

I like to think of Douglas College in the same way – as outward-looking and continually evolving. By examining and understanding other perspectives, we understand ourselves better, and we make progress towards becoming truly global citizens.

The students graduating at our partner institute, Heilongjiang Institute of Science and Technology (HIST), in Harbin reflect this philosophy. Although they may take all their studies in China, they are taught a largely Canadian curriculum, mostly in English, and they receive their parchment from Douglas College.

At this year’s ceremony, we were pleased to be joined by BC’s Minister of Advanced Education, Naomi Yamamoto. She gave a tremendous speech about the value of international education and international experience. And she commended Douglas College for helping to share our high-quality educational experience with the world.

It was a proud moment for me, and one I wish I could have shared with the rest of the college. We have so much to offer the world, and so much to learn as well. That kind of learning, growing and sharing is why I hope Douglas too will always be developing.



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