Karaoke, Fish Skin, and Jesus: Connecting CA with China
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.