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6 Lesson Learned: Programs in China

Here are their top tips for managing that long-distance relationship in China

With nearly a quarter-century of experience working with programs in China, Johns Hopkins University (MD) and Oklahoma City University administrators have just about seen it all. Here are their top tips for managing that long-distance relationship:

1) There’s no rushing the process. “One lesson that I’m still learning is that the Chinese are much more patient than we are,” says Carolyn Townsley, a director for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies. “We are a do-it-now society. The Chinese are quite patient and don’t see the need to do things at the same speed that we do.”

2) Without the right relationships, prospects for success are dim. Explains Townsley, “You need to develop genuine relationships with a Chinese partner so that you have someone who can assist you and explain how things are done a little differently in China.”

3) Include experienced people with an understanding of China in the planning process. That way, when things don’t go the way you expect, says Townsley, “you’re not surprised or upset; but at the same time, you have relationships with individuals who can help you work through the problems.”

4) Figure out what IT resources actually exist in China before outfitting people. According to Deputy Director Milo Manley, Mac users are pretty much on their own at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. “Apple is still not well-supported in Nanjing, and there’s not much that our techs can do to help Apple owners.”

5) A plan B is essential. OKCU CIO Gerry Hunt advises all faculty to have backup plans ready, “so that if the technology is not the way you expect it, you have an alternate way of delivering the course to the students.”

6) Don’t forget about the little things that can add expense. OKCU Assistant Dean Jeri Jones tells faculty heading to China for the first time to make sure they’re staying in a hotel where internet is included in the price. Otherwise, they’ll pay $20 to $25 a day for access. Likewise, make sure your Chinese liaison provides a local cell phone to traveling faculty so that students can reach them.

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