This summer, APSCUF went behind the scenes to show how faculty members and coaches continue to devote themselves to affordable, quality education even when class is not in session. This post is a continuation of that series.
Chinese students learn about the English language, American culture, and sports at East Stroudsburg University’s summer Sport and Physical Activity Symposium with Dr. Gene White, chairman of the physical education department, and Dr. Peng Zhang, exercise science professor. Photo courtesy of Aeon G. White
Faculty members at East Stroudsburg University have devoted much of their past two summers — and springs — to a program that promotes communication between Chinese and ESU college students and faculty.
“(The ESU Sport and Physical Activity Symposium) offers participants authentic American and college cultures, advanced knowledge of physical education and exercise science related areas, and great English instruction,” said Peng Zhang, an ESU professor of exercise science and one of the masterminds behind the program.
Zhang said the driving inspiration behind the summer symposium, which began in 2015, was a combination of ESU’s assistant provost, Mike Southwell, and school officials and students in China.
“Chinese students and faculty at Beijing Sport University and Shanghai University of Sport asked if there would be any short-term programs [or] opportunities that could allow them to visit ESU,” Zhang said. “Mr. Southwell said we could have them come over here for a few weeks in the summer and provide them authentic experiences, studying and living in a U.S. university. Afterward, we came up with the summer symposium idea.”
Before the program can even consider applicants, Zhang; Southwell; Dr. Gene White, chairman of physical education teacher education at ESU; and Sarah Goodrich, ESU’s facility director, must coordinate the agenda’s planning. The process consists of outlining and organizing academic lectures, spoken English lessons, American sports and physical activities, sightseeing trips, meals and lodging, and other miscellaneous activities for the symposium’s 28 days.
“We do a lot of work for each summer’s symposium,” Zhang said. “I cannot count how many hours we have put into the task.”
Once the program description is finalized, organizers send it to the partnered schools, which can start recruiting.
The organizational team meets regularly from February to April. Between April and May, organizers reserve classrooms, invite faculty members to participate, prepare invitational letters for visa applications, hire student workers, and complete background checks. In the interim, the Chinese schools confirm numbers and pay for their students.
Zhang said faculty members work “many, many hours” during the symposium itself, as well.
“We supervise all the activities — on and off campus — such as American sport lessons, lectures, hiking, kayaking, and field trips to NYC, D.C., and Philly,” he said.
As for compensation, Zhang said he and White were the only ones paid for participation because they needed to be “full-time with the participants during the 4-week period.”
“Other faculty participants are not paid for participating, but count it as a service activity,” Zhang said.
Once the program runs its course, the work doesn’t immediately stop. The task then becomes preparing thank-you letters for all the faculty members who taught and contacting the Chinese administrators to report the results of their students’ learning and participation.
“Overall, I have received very positive feedback from Chinese and ESU students,” Zhang said. “Some Chinese students told me they hoped that the symposium would never end.”
One of those Chinese participants was Aeon G. White, of no relation to Dr. Gene White.
“Teachers always encourage[d] us to ask questions, to doubt, to say ‘I don’t agree,’” Aeon said. “Dr. White told us not to believe that teachers are always right or they know everything.”
Aeon said White’s words motivated her to overcome her timidity in class.
“For me, the saddest time was to say goodbye to Dr. White,” she said. “I told him that he always made me feel at home, and every time I talked to him was just like talking to my dear Pa Pa.”
Zhang said the program benefits Chinese and ESU students alike.
“They really learned and enjoyed their experiences,” Zhang said. “Along with providing our Chinese visitors a sustained American experience during the summer, this program brings together people from many different groups, to work and study harmoniously with one another.”
Zhang was this program’s primary conductor, with the help of White, who acted as a leading faculty member of the symposium. Southwell oversaw the entire symposium; Goodrich arranged the meals, lodging, and all the classroom and gym reservations; and Dr. Cynthia Leenerts, an English professor who lectured English comp, organized English corner events and supervised several sightseeing events.
Other lecturing faculty this year included Tim Connolly, chairman of the philosophy and religious studies department; Ed Arner, sport-management instructor; Chad Witmer, an exercise-science professor; Gerard Rozea, chairman of athletic-training department; Kelly Harrison, an athletic-training professor; Mary Jane O’Merle, health-studies instructor; and Doug Lare, chairman of the professional and secondary education department.
“Our student visitors have remarked, and the rest of us have noticed as well, that we became da jia — a big family,” Zhang said. “We believe that this spirit of cooperation reminds us of the way life ought to be — both between nations and within our university.”
—Alexandria Mansfield, APSCUF intern
APSCUF likes to take the time to recognize and applaud our faculty members’ and coaches' accomplishments. Although the fall 2016 semester was a turbulent one to say the least, we are proud to provide a roundup of some faculty members’ and coaches’ achievements.
- A Bloomsburg University professor led a group to educate the community on refugees.
- A California University football coach was chosen as AFCA Coach of the Year.
- A former Cheyney University football coach was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame.
- A Clarion University professor read poetry featured on Writer’s Almanac.
- An East Stroudsburg University professor published a novel after 14 years of work.
- A professor at Edinboro University was invited to serve on the National Social Science Association board.
- An Indiana University of Pennsylvania faculty member was keynote speaker for the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People and urged dialogue to begin healing race relations.
- A Kutztown University professor helped preserve the past at Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center.
- A music professor from Lock Haven University played in an orchestra led by a Grammy-winning composer.
- A Mansfield University professor is slated to have an article published in a peer-reviewed journal by the New York College Learning Skills Association.
- A professor at Millersville University presented a self-written musical in Lancaster.
- A Shippensburg University math professor earned a national teaching award.
- A dance professor at Slippery Rock University was named the new director of SRU’s branch of the Frederick Douglass Institute Collaborative.
- A West Chester University professor of earth and space sciences encouraged girls to pursue science careers.
APSCUF aims to keep our members and followers updated on our faculty members’ and coaches’ successes. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media sites for more great stories featuring our incredible faculty and coaches. Have a story to be told? Tag APSCUF on social media or email us at email@example.com.
—Alexandria Mansfield, APSCUF intern
From left: State System Chancellor Frank Brogan, Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia Shapira, and Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, sign faculty and coach contracts this morning at Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.
Faculty and coach contracts are ratified. Click here to read today's press release.
State APSCUF's government-relations and communications winter 2016-17 intern is Alexandria Mansfield, who will enter her junior year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the spring. Mansfield majors in journalism and public relations with a minor in human services.
The Cook Honors College student said she is looking forward to utilizing her writing skills in a new environment.
"I hope this experience will help me clarify where I see my career path taking me — whether it be in journalism or public relations," Mansfield said.
While at school, she works in the provost’s office and as the news editor for The Penn, IUP’s student-run newspaper. In her free time, Mansfield enjoys reading, spending time with pets, and teaching herself how to knit.
Christopher Dunne started working for APSCUF this month in the position of research specialist.
Dunne joins us after earning his Master of Science degree in economic theory and policy at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, before which he worked with the Canada Post/Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
Members of APSCUF's nominations and elections committee open contract-ratification ballots Dec. 8 at the Association of Pennsylvania State College and Universities office in Harrisburg.
The votes are in. Click here to read today's press release.