Maria M. Silva, Staff Writer
Chinese students Yue Wu and Zihao Zheng are studying the criminal justice major at Utica College for the spring semester thanks to a partnership with China’s Guandong Police College (GPC).
The focus of the partnership, which was made official in November 2017, is to bring criminal justice and economic crime investigation students from GPC to Utica to study for a semester. The program is only valid for three years, although, it could be renewed when it expires.
The beginning of this international partnership after GPC professor Wang Long visited UC last year. The scholar is well-known in the field of economic crime investigation in China and came to UC to conduct rearch along with professor Kyung-Seok Choo.
Long was interested in bringing students from his institution to learn more about the fraud and financial crime investigation program at UC, Choo explained.
“This partnership will be mutually beneficial to both colleges,” he said. “GPC recognized UC’s Economic Crime Program. Through the partnership, UC’s Economic Crime Program expands its reputation overseas as the pioneers in economic crime investigation.”
As a result of today’s globalized banking system, “our students might investigate Chinese economic crimes in the future as China faces many challenges of financial crime,” Choo added. “This will be an excellent opportunity for both Utica and GPC college students to learn about how each country deals with financial crime problems.”
Alongside Choo, professor of criminal justice Donald Rebovich is coordinating independent studies for both Yue and Zihao.
Besides taking 12 credit courses here at UC, the Chinese students are also required to produce an independent study project, which consists of a comparison between a financial crime topic from the perspective of China and the U.S. The students will present their findings at the Student Conference for Research, Professional Activities and Creative Arts on April 18.
Yue and Zihao have now been studying at UC for two months, making the most of the experience.
“I think I’ve adjusted enough to this new life here at UC,” said Zihao, a junior. “The biggest problem I’ve had would be reading academic journals, scholarly articles and understanding the different laws and the American perspective on financial crime.”
For Yue, the language and the cultural differences have been the most difficult part of her time adjusting to UC.
“Before coming, I did not really know much about the American culture, and my English was not that good, but now it has improved,” Yue said.
From the time that she has spent here at UC, Yue has really enjoyed events like the hockey game or ice skating.
“Going on trips, I have been able to learn things about the American culture that I haven’t been taught in class,” Yue stated.
Despite the end of classes being more than a month away, both Yue and Zihao already feel a change in their personalities and their points of view after studying at UC.
“I am a much more outgoing person,” Zihao said. “Before coming here, I used to be more shy, but now, with all the new people I have met and the presentations I’ve done in class, I am much more extroverted. Every time I meet new people now, I try to learn everything about their background. It’s been a great adventure so far.”
Talking about her experiences, Ziaho explained, “I realized that there is so many people in this world and, even though we all come from different backgrounds and cultures, deep down we all have a lot of things in common.”
Getting to work and meet weekly with the students, professor Rebovich has been able to keep track of how Yue and Zihao are adjusting to their new life at UC.
“I have been very impressed with both students as they have demonstrated they are extremely dedicated to their educational goals at UC, and are inquisitive and energetic,” Rebovich said.
Stacy Phelps, office manager for the Office of International Education, has also been able to learn from the students themselves on how they were adapting to their new environment and culture.
Phelps is happy to know that Yue and Zihao “have been adjusting very well since the beginning of the semester.”
The fact that they are the first Chinese students studying at UC, he said, “brings a lot of cultural values to our college community, but they also bring a new perspective to their majors and classes, which can be a little different compared to Taiwan or Hong Kong.”