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China Women’s University student first to participate in exchange program

| Thursday, February 16, 2017

Saint Mary’s has sent students to China Women’s University through an exchange program before, but junior Siwei Li is the first student from China Women’s University to attend the College.

“I love the environment here because there’s so much free time and you can do all of the things you want to,” Li said. “Also, I’ve met plenty of great students here.”

Alice Siqin Yang, associate director of international education at the College, said China Women’s University is an esteemed college firmly invested in women’s empowerment.

“It is affiliated with the All-China Women’s Federation, which is a national network,” Yang said. “There’s a strong network support for women’s empowerment and girl’s education in the country. We all support the idea of women’s education. We share the same philosophies and visions for leadership and training for our students.”

In her three months in the U.S., Li has visited three states, including Indiana.

“The first time I was here, I was a freshman and I came here through a summer program at my university,” Li said. “I’ve been in America for three months now. I stayed in Montana and Utah and made pretty good friends in Utah. I know Utah has good national parks, so I hope I can go back there and visit them.”

Li said she has not had much opportunity to explore Notre Dame or South Bend yet.

“I go to Notre Dame often, but I just go for my class and I don’t stay awhile — the campus is really big,” Li said. “I haven’t really gotten the chance to explore South Bend yet, but I want to. I spend a lot of time [at Saint Mary’s] because I want to get used to everything here first.”

Saint Mary’s exchange program has a successful past, but Yang said she hopes to expand it and welcome even more international students.

“We have our exchange program here at Saint Mary’s where we send students to different countries and then we welcome them to send their students here,” Yang said. “Ewha University and Seoul National University did send women to our campus some years ago, and now [Li] is the first student from China Women’s University. We hope other countries like India — maybe even Canada — will come together and collaborate with us.”

While Li said she is comfortable here, she also said she misses her family, especially this time of year during China’s Spring Festival.

“Right now in China is the Spring Festival, so I miss my family a lot,” Li said. “The Spring Festival is like how Christmas is for Americans. It’s important for the family to be together for the Spring Festival so many Chinese people travel to get back home. It’s important for kids as well, because they get red envelopes which have money and well wishes inside them.”

Yang said welcoming international exchange students to campus is one of the most enlightening experiences for students.

“We want our students to grow and be women leaders and make changes in the world,” Yang said. “We are learners and teachers to each other. When international students come here, they learn from us but we learn from them, and broaden our view of the world.”

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

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