(Tahlequah, Okla.)--During the past few years, Northeastern State University and Weifang University in Shandong Province, China, have worked to create a scholarly exchange between the two institutions. An NSU graduate student is augmenting those efforts.
Elaina Ross is teaching English to 12 middle-school-age Chinese students at NSU's John Vaughan Library through August 10. The classes began June 16 and meet on weekdays from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
"I am teaching 12 students and they are doing very well," Ross said. "I can already see a huge improvement in their speaking abilities and their vocabularies."
During late 2011, Ross visited China with the assistance of the CIBT Education Group Inc., a Canada-based education management company. She taught English at Weifang University.
"This teaching ties into my stay in Weifang because I am working for CIBT," she said. "NSU and CIBT have an established partnership. Because of my visit, I am able to refer to locations around Weifang in my teachings that the students are familiar with, which makes new topics more relatable for them."
The students were invited to Tahlequah and had their visas arranged by NSU. They are living in campus housing, but will move in with host families and attend Tahlequah Middle School as exchange students until mid-October.
Ross said she enjoys seeing the students interact with U.S. culture. They find Dr Pepper too sweet for their tastes and they chase the squirrels around campus – squirrel species in China are very rural and none roam the cities. Ross said some were confused by refrigerated milk. Chinese citizens consume less milk per person than Westerners do, and they often acquire it powdered.
"These students don't have preconceived stereotypes; they are seeing products or ideas for the first time with no outside influencing," Ross said. "How they are experiencing it now is completely their choice."
Pursuing a master's degree in English with an emphasis in rhetoric, Ross wants to pursue a Ph.D. in rhetoric and teach at the collegiate level. She would like to find a teaching assignment abroad.
She graduated from NSU in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in English and history. During her time at Northeastern, she took three trips abroad – all facilitated by her student status. In addition to the trip to China last fall, Ross traveled to Paris with a Living Literature Study Abroad and spent the fall 2009 semester at Swansea University in Wales, United Kingdom, as a Brad Henry International Scholar.
She said the teaching experience provides myriad benefits.
"I wanted to be involved because I know what it feels like to go somewhere and have no idea what is going on, and understanding that feeling makes a difference," she said. "I am gaining experience as a teacher but also seeing different perspectives of the U.S. I love hearing all the questions they ask about parts of life I take for granted."
For more information about the English language class taught by Ross, call the NSU Office of International Programs at 918-444-2050.
Published: 8/1/2012 5:10:35 PM