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February 7 event to highlight Chinese New Year, study abroad opportunities

ISSUED: 28 January 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University will host a Chinese New Year celebration that will highlight its exchange agreement with Nanhua University in Taiwan on Friday, February 7, from 6-8 p.m. in the Erma Ora Byrd Hall atrium. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by Shepherd’s Study Abroad Club, Program Board, Multicultural Student Affairs, Shepherd University Foundation, and Phi Beta Delta. A snow day of Wednesday, February 12, has been set.

The event will include a lion dance, food sampling, silent auction, and a talk by Dr. David Gordon, professor of history, who spent the fall semester in southern Taiwan teaching at Nanhua University. Gordon taught three classes for Nanhua’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, along with two online classes for Shepherd’s Department of History.

Gordon and his wife, Christina Lu, also had the opportunity to visit major cities and famous sites in Taiwan, a 230-mile island off the southeast coast of China. Nanhua, like Shepherd, is situated in a rural location with ready access to bustling urban areas. It has a variety of courses available in English and enjoys a close relationship with National Chung Cheng University, a large public university located two miles away. Gordon, who has been teaching Asian history at Shepherd for 20 years, said this is the longest period of time he’s spent in East Asia and the experience was great.

“It was quite valuable to me to see the rhythm of everyday life and what a person has to do to become established in a different culture,” Gordon said. “I find myself already making references to this experience in classes as I’m explaining information about East Asian countries.”

In addition to speaking during the Chinese New Year celebration, Gordon donated three books he brought back from Taiwan to the Scarborough Library. One book was written by the founder of the Buddhist organization that founded Nanhua University, Master Hsing Yun. Gordon said the book is written in both Chinese and English with brief Buddhist commentary by Yun and examples of his calligraphy. A second book is a self-study path about the events of Yun’s life written in relatively simple Chinese with photographs, and the third book is about different species of birds that appear on the campus of Nanhua University.

“Nanhua, like Shepherd, is surrounded by trees and is in a very rural environment,” Gordon said. “Each pair of pages has a different type of bird with some discussion by one of the professors at Nanhua University pertaining to that bird.”

“One audience that I see being interested in these books is our study abroad students to broaden their horizons about where they might want to go some day,” said Rachel Hally, library coordinator of collections. “The beauty of the bird book will appeal to a lot of folks even if they can’t read the Chinese. We have a big birding community in Shepherdstown, and Buddhism is of perpetual interest.”

“I think it’s exciting for our students to know one of our professors went abroad to work and study for a whole semester,” said Dr. Laura Renninger, Scarborough Library dean.

Nanhua is a partner institution with Shepherd, which means that students at either college pay their home institution tuition but will pay room and board abroad. Other opportunities to study at Shepherd’s partner institutions include universities in Japan, Scotland, Cyprus, and Mexico. For more information, contact Yin Star at ystar@shepherd.edu.

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