Mohawk Valley Community College’s Rome campus will be home to a new foreign exchange program for about 30 Chinese students next fall, according to campus Dean Ronald Cantor.Hats off to Mayor Brown for promoting our region abroad by promoting his own city of Rome. Although he seems to have had some problems lately with his own city counsel, from the Utica end of the county he seems to be a dynamic leader that is doing a good job for his people.
The concept started when the Asian American Council began working with Mayor James F. Brown for a sister city program in China. . . .
An early hurdle for the students will be learning English, [Dean Cantor] said. "We assume the students will need a great deal of support in English language instruction. That could be the focus of the first year of schooling." After that, he said, the program will encourage liberal arts degrees for several reasons — including that fact that they are not too specific and that they offer a good way to introduce the Asian students to the American culture and education system . . .Whoa! A focus on English language for the first year of schooling? This sounds like students who are not proficient in English will be the invitees. If that is the case, how will they participate in class effectively with local students and promote cross-cultural understanding?
Encouraging liberal arts degrees? This sounds like these students will be treated differently from others. It almost suggests that special programs will be designed for these students rather than having them take advantage of the programs that we already have.
Unlike MVCC’s Utica campus, the Rome campus does not have dormitories or facilities for food preparation and dining. So how will the exchange students be housed and fed in a Rome program? Cantor noted that there is plenty of available housing stock in the city, including former Griffiss Air Force Base housing that is either repaired or could be repaired. As for food, he said, plenty of those existing housing options have kitchens and dining rooms, and also added that the program includes Asian American Council-run food preparation — even a specialist in Asian food.Hold the phone! Are the taxpayers going to be tapped to construct/repair housing for these students? This is starting to sound like an excuse to build dorms for the Rome Campus . . . which was never intended to be anything more than an extension of the main campus in Utica in order to serve the needs of Romans.
And special Asian food prep? If you were going to China to study, would you expect (or even want) American-style cooking?
Foreign exchange is a great idea, and again, hats off to Mayor Brown for promoting it. . . . But what some county officials plan to do with this idea does not sound like foreign exchange in its usual sense. The students will be specially classed, specially fed, with mixers with locals specially orchestrated ... not diving headlong into American culture and sinking or swimming and learning from the experience ... and teaching something to American students along the way.
This sounds less like an "exchange" of ideas with foreign students and more like an "exchange" of foreign money for a carefully managed "American" experience . . . It also provides a convenient excuse for certain county officials to grow their programs and tap the taxpayers while doing it.