Breaking Boundaries and Boarding Planes: From Chongqing to New Paltz

If you look around, though we are a small, humble campus in an ever-so-quaint town, we are also pretty diverse. The SUNY New Paltz community is blessed with students and faculty from all walks of life. Zipping through the the underground tunnels of the library and lecture center, you can hear murmurs from various languages, in exotic accents, telling stories from lands you may not know. 

This facet of our school can be accredited to the international programs we host. This spring, SUNY New Paltz will host to a group of 13 students from Chongqing, China. This new program, running for the first time this semester, is a dual diploma (DDP) experience for English-education students. The cohort of students are the first group to come through such a program. 

International programs, however, are not new to SUNY New Paltz altogether. A long-standing and ongoing program that was launched in 2004 is with the students from Turkey. Going off of the success with this program, the school teamed up with the University of Education in Chongqing (CQUE).

“There is a growing demand for English teachers in China,” said Dr. Kathleen Bauman Geher, director of international dual diploma programs. 

This particular program allows for the students who are involved to receive a diploma from both SUNY New Paltz and the Chongqing University of Education for their education degree. They do half of the coursework for their entire college career at one school, and the other half at the other. Typically for this program from Chongqing the students have completed the first two years in their home country, and are now starting at SUNY New Paltz in the spring of their junior year. 

“We have peer mentors for the students and many of the Chinese students have American conversation partners and community ambassadors as well (organized by our Haggerty English Language Program) who help them adjust to a very different culture and campus climate in the US,” Geher said.

A daunting experience, no doubt, these students have embarked on this step of their academic journey with completely open arms. The American culture, food and language is as different from that of the Chinese as it can get. 

“I made a lot of friends here. I passed IELTS exam with the help of my American friends. They revise my composition and help me to practice my English,” said DDP student Helen Gan. “I know one of my friends because she is my conversation partner of Haggerty program. It is really helpful to improve my oral language. I am impressed for their passions and kindness.”

Traveling to a whole new country is in itself no easy feat and, additionally, the program calls for a lot from the students to begin with. 

“Students are admitted to the university in their home countries based on a competitive exam (the Gaokao in China and the Undergraduate Placement Exam in Turkey),” Geher said. “The CQUE students from China then have to meet a number of criteria in order to be admitted to SUNY New Paltz, including having an 85 percent average, sufficient English proficiency scores and an acceptable writing sample. Turkish students also have a minimum GPA requirement and must have the required English proficiency levels.”

This international exchange is not limited to students. In fact, select faculty members will be traveling to Chongqing to teach certain classes that will count toward their degrees. Faculty from Chongqing have visited here, too. Faculty members will be taking some American students along with them, allowing these select SUNY New Paltz students to earn college credits as well.

Mahnoor Ali
About Mahnoor Ali 46 Articles
Mahnoor Ali is a fourth-year English major with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. This is her third semester with the The Oracle. Previously, she has worked as Assistant Copy Editor and Features Editor. Her favorite stories to both read and write about are Culture, Entertainment, Lifestyle, and Columns, with an appreciation for News and social issues.