This fall, 14 Chinese students arrived on the Millsaps College campus, having left their homes, family and friends for an education in the United States. Ten students are undergraduates and four are studying in the Else School of Management, on track to receive graduate degrees in accounting.
The majority of students come from Wuhan and Chengdu, areas in the central part of the country; the rest hail from Beijing, Nanjing, Shenzhen and Shanghai.
How did these students from far-reaching parts of China come to Millsaps? Three years ago Millsaps College faculty and administrators took a recruiting trip to Wuhan, making valuable personal contacts along the way. Some of these contacts influenced Chinese students to look into what Millsaps had to offer. International students already at Millsaps recommended the school to friends. Some students even found the school online as part of a search they conducted themselves.
The fourteen students work closely with Dr. Ming Tsui, associate professor of Sociology. With research interests in areas of marriage and family, education, gender and employment in Chinese culture, Tsui is a logical guide during their experience in Mississippi.
Tsui acts as both a teacher and a mentor, often finding students both in her Core 1 and sociology classes and in her office asking for advice. She considers it her job to "teach them about the American education system, daily life from food to illness to making doctor's appointments and how to interact with professors and American students."
Most undergraduate students from China come to Millsaps to study computer science, math, accounting, business, physics and engineering. Schoolwork is an overwhelming part of their stay in America, and "the majority of Chinese students largely interact among themselves and focus on their school work with little involvement with college social life," observes Tsui. The 14 Chinese students on campus contribute to an increasingly internationalized student body, though many maintain strong ties with family and friends back home. They find keeping in touch easy via the internet.
While there is a notable feeling of camaraderie among Chinese students, at least one considers himself "fully integrated into Millsaps culture," Tsui adds. All of the undergraduate students plan to complete all four years at Millsaps, sometimes even staying during the summer. Though graduation may seem far off for some, all are weighing their options after receiving their diplomas. Some plan to stay at the Else School to receive a Master's degree, others plan to attend graduate schools in other areas and at least one student has set his sights on law school in the United States.