ST. BONAVENTURE - A St. Bonaventure University professor hopes to use his selection as a Fulbright Specialist Roster Program candidate to develop an academic exchange program with China's Xibei University.
Dr. Barry Gan, professor of philosophy and director of The Center for Nonviolence at St. Bonaventure, formed close ties with Xibei (zhee'-bay) University when he was invited to lecture there while on a tour of China last summer. Gan, in turn, will host a group of professors from Xibei during their visit to the United States this spring, and a graduate student from Xibei will teach Chinese 101 at St. Bonaventure in the fall.
Gan now wants to use his recent selection as a Fulbright Specialist Roster Program candidate as a catalyst for developing an even deeper relationship between the two universities.
The Specialist Program is a complement to the Fulbright Scholar Program, an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government designed to increase understanding among people of different nations. The program selects qualified U.S. professors and professionals to fill rosters in selected disciplines, then matches specialists with requests from colleges and universities in more than 100 countries. Candidates remain on a roster for a five-year period, making them eligible for grants for what are typically short-term collaborative projects.
Gan said officials from any university on the Fulbright list can contact him or any of the other specialist candidates to speak or present at their institution.
"It also means that if the university wants to develop a program in conjunction with an American program, it can do that. And since I already have this link with Xibei University, I'm hoping to do that," he said.
While at Xibei last summer, Gan, an expert on Gandhi, spoke to Xibei education majors and graduate students about the ideas of the late Indian political and religious leader.
"I wanted to introduce Gandhi's ideas of nonviolence and nonmaterialism to China because I think they're facing the same threats of violence and materialism that the U.S. has been facing for a long time,'' he said.
Gan also spoke about the education system in the United States, and about how one might go about getting a teaching job in the U.S. Most of the students he addressed were education majors who speak both Chinese and English.
This fledgling relationship between St. Bonaventure and Xibei University takes another step forward in the fall when a Xibei graduate student comes to St. Bonaventure to teach Chinese 101 through the St. Bonaventure's Department of Modern Languages. St. Bonaventure will provide the student with room, board and a living stipend, and the student will enroll in graduate courses at St. Bonaventure.
''It's a great opportunity, both for the student from Xibei and our own students,'' said Gan.
And should the two schools succeed in establishing a relationship through the Fulbright Specialist program, which would require approval by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Gan plans to return to Xibei to explore additional collaborations.
''I'd like to develop further programs with them, such as faculty exchanges and maybe a junior year abroad for our students and theirs,'' said Gan. ''We'd even like to pursue the idea of St. Bonaventure acting as a clearinghouse for such exchanges between Xibei and the 21 colleges and universities that make up the Western New York Consortium of Higher Education.''
Gan said he is appreciative of the possibilities resulting from his Fulbright Specialist Roster candidacy.
''I'm grateful there's such a program, that I may have the opportunity to develop closer ties between St. Bonaventure and Xibei, and that it may give me the opportunity for greater exposure to a culture that I've always wanted to learn more about,'' he said.