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Monday, October 10, 2016 - 6:10am

In the largest summer international student group RIT ever hosted, 53 Chinese students spent four weeks here delving into American life while taking classes in English language and global business education.

As part of RIT's international partnership with Beijing Jiaotong University, they are part of the first cohort of students enrolled in the management information systems joint degree program implemented last fall by Saunders College of Business and BJTU's School of Economics and Management.

"It has been a wonderful opportunity and privilege to host such a large group of students from our RIT-BJTU affiliation," said James Myers, RIT associate provost of international education and global programs. "This summer program added a new dimension to our comprehensive partnership that already includes faculty exchange, student exchange and offering joint programs in China."

John Tu, senior associate dean at Saunders, said there are 110 students enrolled in the MIS program at BJTU's new Weihai Southsea campus-and nearly half came for this specially designed program. "Even though they go to school in Weihai, these are RIT students," said Tu, adding that the program requires the students to earn 160 credit hours-rather than the usual 120-to meet requirements and earn degrees from both universities.

The summer session at RIT was facilitated by Stanley Van Horn, (English Language Center director) and Lyndsey McGrath (director of global programs and international partnerships). This class has the distinction of being "first" at Weihai, which will eventually hold 5,000 to 8,000 students.

They also are the first to get a real taste of the RIT experience-and had much to say about it: American food (hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza) is "Much too salty"; the campus is really beautiful with deer and rabbits; the dorms with kitchens in Global Village are the best; the rock climbing and ice skating are great fun; the variety of comic books is amazing; and the "U.S. is way more expensive than China."

The BJTU students also participated in RIT's 2016 Undergraduate Research Symposium. "Teams of students worked on poster projects," said Rebekah Lees, specialist in applied linguistics who worked with students. "One group studied Pokémon Go in entrepreneurship; another did a market survey of Nike and Under Armour, and another analyzed restaurant take-out services in America."

Ruoqing Zhao, Qianru Zhang, Kaiyu Zhang and Liangyu Wang studied dog services in America and China. "We love our pets in China but there is no one to take care of them when you work or go on vacation," said Wang. "So we would like to develop a dog walking business."

Tu said a distinct advantage for business students in China is the ability to take classes taught in English while benefiting from the RIT curriculum.

"These students are real pioneers-both at Weihai and RIT," he said. "We hope they come back for graduate studies."

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