There are currently over 15,000 international students studying within the state of Minnesota; I’m proud that 21 of them call Concordia Academy home. Our international students have come from over a dozen different countries, including Liberia, Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and, of course, China. Increasing interest over the last five years has prompted us to be proactive in building relationships with partners abroad to ensure that Concordia Academy has the best possible international students. So, this fall, I took my fourth trip to China in three years, while Sarah Adams, our other admissions director, headed to Vietnam.
In late October, I landed in China for what would be my most interesting trip yet. This time was a little different from past recruitment trips; instead of participating in structured educational fairs with other American schools, I was simply meeting with our Chinese partners, on their turf. I visited five cities (Shanghai, Xiamen, Jinjiang, Chengdu and Beijing) in 12 days. I have never felt more welcomed, and I think it’s safe to stay I actually visited the “real” China this time!
The Chinese way of doing business is different then the American way. It is almost entirely based on relationships and is truly all about who you know. My meetings were about getting to know each other and typically included a meal or two, followed by karaoke (a LOT of karaoke!). Thanks to karaoke, I found myself visiting the “real” China by eating local delicacies (including, but not limited to, fish skin, chicken feet, and cow stomach) and singing Christmas songs in October. It was so fun to actually experience this part of the Chinese culture, and I was amazed at how welcoming everyone I encountered was.
Through these travel experiences, it also showed me how different our two cultures are and how brave these students are for coming to study in a foreign country so different from their own. Our international students bring unique perspectives and consistently contribute to the CA community. We have seen them win at the state robotics competition, play worship music on the guzheng in chapel, become baptized, make best friends, and so much more. At CA, these students are seeing Jesus’s love, and for many it’s a new love never felt before—How powerful is that!?
As we see our international program grow, establish partnerships with Chinese schools, and continue to welcome more international students, I look forward to seeing what is in store for them…and for Concordia Academy.
One of the ways that Concordia Academy seeks to “Honor God Through Excellence” is through a unique event known as the Berean Order.
Taking its name from the Bereans, a briefly noted community in the book of Acts, the Berean Order has been a part of the Concordia ethos for the last 10 years. In short, the Berean Order is an in-house, school-wide Bible knowledge contest that culminates with a school wide assembly that pits the top 10 contestants in an oral examination of selected texts. This competition was developed to communicate the paramount importance that Biblical literacy holds to life in the Kingdom of God and to do so in a spirited, competitive manner.
While the past winners have shown commitment to study and a love for Scripture, this year’s winner is all of that, but with an extraordinary story. Yingyan Huang, known to Concordia as “Cherie,” just completed her third year at Concordia, coming to us as an international student from China. Prior to enrolling at CA, Christianity and Scripture were completely foreign to her. But when one is surrounded by water, it’s difficult to stay dry. And so, this very inquisitive, tenacious young lady began exploring Scripture and soon found an appetite for Jesus and His Word.
To make a long story short, this appetite turned into passion. A voracious reader, Cherie is always up for a challenge (just ask her about being a member of the CA trap shooting club!) and pursued Scripture and a budding faith relentlessly. It should be noted that last year, Cherie not only made it to the Berean Order finals, but she managed to finish as the runner-up, setting the stage for her triumph this spring.
While her Berean Order victory is significant, something even greater has been accomplished in her time at CA. She is now also, I am thrilled to say, a baptized fellow disciple in the Kingdom of God!