A two-year program allows Bellevue University’s Chinese students to receive an education and also experience life in Nebraska.
BU and Guangzhou College of Commerce have been partners since 2012, and have invited students in Guangzhou to receive their bachelor’s degree in supply chain management and logistics.
While in a week-long English boot camp, students also have the opportunity to stay with a host family, usually comprised on BU staff members, but sometimes outside volunteers.
“If we shove them in an apartment they don’t have anything to do,” said Julie Verebely, director of global partnerships for BU. “Our idea to find a host family for them — it’s kind of like for 24 hours you get to speak English, and it’s a better opportunity also to learn culture and build relationships between students and their host.”
Ed Haynes, program director for supply chain management, hosted a student last year and said it was a great experience for everyone involved to learn about each other’s cultures.
“Each year we learn from previous years, and we kind of take notes, so we’re better prepared each year,” he said. “Students do a lot of presentations of Chinese culture to many companies and organizations in Omaha.”
Donald DuBay, who works in the guild partnership programs at BU, hosted students multiple times, and hosted two Chinese students, Yixian Chen and Shufeng Zhang, this year during English Boot Camp.
DuBay said he decided to host students because he and his family have always been accustomed to different cultures.
“I thought this would be a great opportunity for us,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity that we have these cultural exchanges with education.”
Chen said his time spent with the family was beneficial for his first week in Bellevue.
“I try my best to understand what he says — sometimes maybe we don’t know what we talk to each other [about] because my English is sometimes not good,” he said. “It’s very quiet [in Nebraska].”
Aside from practicing English, DuBay said the students went to a lake to swim, went to church, met DuBay’s daughters and son and also went to restaurants — their favorite dish is beef.
Chen said he decided to come to BU because the environment was good and he wanted to study the different cultures in Bellevue.
“It’s good for me for the future,” he said.
DuBay said he likes this program because of how advantageous it is to connect with people from different cultures.
“It makes people brighter people — less judgmental and more accepting of other people,” he said. “Now when you add the mix of having more education involved, which this relationship does, I think that’s even better.”
Though the students have moved into their dorms, DuBay said he’s assured them they’re still welcome to his home.
“I hope we continue with a relationship because I’m at BU, so we’ll be able to see each other,” he said.