Sanda University / Shanghai

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Welcome in Shanghai

The welcome by the staff of Sanda University was warm and friendly. They stood in the airport crowd holding up a sign that read 'University of Illinois' and we felt immediately well taken care of. People and luggage were loaded on board of a bus and off we went to the Sanda University campus in the Pudong part of Shanghai. After about an hour-long drive, we reached our accommodations for the next four days.

Map of Shanghai

The first full day at Sanda University was spent by getting to know the campus and our hosts. In the morning, we were guided over the small but beautiful and serene campus. As a special treat, we got to go inside the student quarters to see how the students live. Their rooms were small and reminded all of us of our own days in college.

After lunch we met with Vice president Jin, Dean Huang of the College of Foreign Languages, Pauline Zhong, Head of the Office of International Exchange & Cooperation and several faculty members.

Meeting with Vice President Jin and Dean Huang

During the meeting we learned that Sanda University has a partnership program with two local middle schools whose goal is to improve English language skills in students as well as provide special services to children from poorer neighborhoods. One of the major issues Shanghai is dealing with is the impact of urbanization on traditional farm families. Two faculty members, Hua Keren and Wen Ya, presented the English Reading program to us.

Ryan Hobson introduced the University of Illinois as well as Extension to our hosts and Richard Clark gave a presentation on 4-H. Professor Jin and Dean Huang were very interested in the 4-H concept.

In the evening, the group was taken to downtown Shanghai to visit the Cheng-Huang-Miao district where a traditional palace with gardens has been transformed into a shopping area. With our guides / translators, we had our first impression of Chinese daily lives.

Research linkages are possible�there are many opportunities for comparative research on youth group formation, volunteer and stipend adult involvement in 4-H youth development programs, curricular approaches, usefulness and benefits of specific curricula, and youth leadership development. The subject area of teens as teachers is a specific niche to be studied that is present both in organized 4-H youth groups in Illinois and university-sponsored after-school programs in China. Faculty and staff in the Department of Human and Community Development should be engaged in conversations about newly found opportunities for study.

-- Steve Wagoner

The morning of Friday, April 18 began with an administrator meeting in president Yuan Jin's office. President Jin reaffirmed Sanda's interest in learning more about the 4-H program but he also stressed that cooperation over the 4-H program would only be regarded as a first step, and he would be happy to see this cooperation eventually widen to other departments and programs.

Meanwhile the rest of the group had gathered in front of a lecturing building waiting to begin with the scheduled workshops starting at 9:30 am. The topics presented were:

  • Food Safety (JoAnn Todd)
  • Economic Impact of Tourism on a Community (Jody Johnson)
  • Character Education in American Schools (Judy Taylor and Patti Faughn)
  • Cultural Connection (Judy Schmidt)
  • Schools Online (Jane Scherer)
  • Leadership, Youth & Adult Relationships, Coalition & Collaboration (Steve Wagoner)
  • Going Solo (Martina Mohrbacher)

We had audiences of 50 to 80 students each session from different departments for our workshops.

After the workshops, the faculty invited us to a buffet style lunch that offered the opportunity to get into conversations on a personal level with the Sanda staff. This was a valuable opportunity to learn more about the University, but also about all other aspects of the lives of faculty at a Chinese University.

After lunch, we got a chance to visit Pudong Middle School where we had an introduction to the schools more than 100 years long history. Then we met with the rector and some of the teachers, and finally we participated in one of the English reading lectures.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was reserved for experiencing old Shanghai. We got into a bus and drove for about two hours in heavy traffic until we got to the old part of Shanghai. On the way, we learned that Pudong, the part we were staying in, was only built 15 years ago and that before there were only rice fields and farms. The farmers had been driven off their land and a city for millions of people had been constructed '' almost over night!

In Shanghai we divided up into groups and headed off to different directions, always with one of our faithful guides in our midst.

After dinner, we went down to Nanjing Road and to the famous Bund where Shanghai's history and future meet. The Bund is a river walk along old colonial style buildings that tell stories of Shanghai's past before the beginning of the Japanese War in 1937.' On the other side of the Huangpu River the high-rises of Pudong shine their glittery lights through the night, with the famous Oriental Pearl Tower sitting in their midst.'

On Saturday the group started after breakfast on a trip to Zhu-jia-jiao an old town about three hours away from the Sanda campus that is frequently compared to Venice because of its water canals flowing through the middle of the town.


Our tour guide explained the history and significance of the town to us while we walked through the narrow and crowded streets. The lanes were lined with food vendors and souvenir shops. After an exciting day of sightseeing, gondola riding and haggling with shop owners over silk fans, shirts and chop sticks, we returned to campus exhausted and ready to pack our bags because we would leave Shanghai the following day.

Before we all got to the task of packing, a group meeting was called to discuss the highlights of the trip so far and to get an impression of the mood within the group. Such reflection meetins were held after each stop to keep us focused on the goals set up for this trip.

The people were a highlight of my trip. As I looked at the people I wrote about in my journal, I found the attributes represented included kindness, intelligence, hard working, generous, curious, helpful, shrewd, patient, beautiful, focused, trusting, aggressive, eager, and sincere. I have begun a list of those individual people/encounters and the significance of each.

-- Judy Taylor

Highlights of the meetings were:

  • Participants felt we had achieved goals and were making plans for faculty to come to Illinois
  • Trips had been experienced as very interesting and educational
  • The visit to the Middle School was very much appreciated and the teachers there had indicated that they were interested in piloting the 'Terrific Teachable Moments' curriculum
  • Everybody had enjoyed the workshops and the teaching experience
  • It was stated that there was great interest in CED
  • The Reading Program had impressed everybody and sparked many ideas: e-books are a very interesting format to be used for 4-H project books, we could think about trying to get grant money for after-school program
  • A communication loop should be developed to keep everybody apprised of follow-up developments after return.''

On Sunday morning we got up early because our train left at 7:00 am from the Shanghai train station. We were all very sorry to say goodbye to our new friends from Sanda University but we were excited to go to our next destination, Hangzhou and the West Lake area.