Freeman Fellows Program at the University of Illinois Closes

For eighteen years, the Freeman Foundation funded a unique visiting scholars program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The program ended in 2013 after having brought nearly 200 Chinese scholars to the United States for a year of research and exploration. To illustrate the range of fields included in the program, the 2012-2013 fellows included:

Cai Ning, accounting and finance, Xiamen University
Chen Huiping, international economic law, Xiamen University
Gu Jing, international relations, Sun Yat-sen University
Liu Xue, comparative journalism, Wuhan University
Zheng Anguang, international studies, Nanjing University

In addition to assisting the scholars with their research at the university, the UIUC Center of East Asian and Pacific Studies took the group to visit local institutions such as museums, radio stations, and newspapers. They had recreational outings at local and national parks. Throughout the year, the center organized what they called “cultural conversations” in homes and businesses. Topics discussed included     consumption and conservation, parenting, managing stress, parents and teachers in childhood education, access to news and information, and academic and personal ethics.

Other learning opportunities included meetings with local school superintendents and visits to elementary and secondary schools. In 2012, the group visited polling places and talked with election judges and university faculty about the American political process. Some groups attended Native American harvest events and others visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, state capitals, multi-ethnic eating tour of New York City, places associated with the writings of Mark Twain, and other sites.

Host families further immersed the visitors in local life and benefited from the chance to learn about China from their visitors. The Chinese scholars participated in the intellectual life of the university, offering guest presentations and more. Many also participated in conferences at other schools or at the annual meetings of scholarly associations.

The center maintained contact with fellows, regularly publishing news about program alumni and highlighting on-going collaborations fostered by the program. UIUC has continued the program in much the same way (using the name “Pan-Asian Visiting Scholars Program”, welcoming applications from self-funded scholars.

Newsletters, photos, and more from the program are available at: http://freemanfellows.ceaps.illinois.edu/.

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