This summer, UT is sending a team of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty to Beijing to lead an English summer camp for Chinese college students.
    
The camp, held for incoming Tsinghua University freshmen, is aimed at providing an immersion experience in Western culture and language.
   
 “The camp is set up to be fun for the students, to give them a different teaching style than the ones they are used to,” program coordinator Betty Tipton said. “It’s a more interactive learning experience.”
   
 Leading the three-week-long camp are faculty and students from colleges in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Because of UT’s good relationship as an exchange partner with Tsinghua , UT has been asked to send a contingent of students almost every year since the program’s inception.
    
“Our students and faculty always do a great job of representing the university,” Tipton said.
   
 The program’s UT coordinators will choose five teachers and 10 student volunteers to work at the camp on behalf of UT.
    
While the program helps Chinese students gain experience in English, it also gives many faculty and staff a chance to go abroad that they would not have had otherwise due to time or job constraints.
    
“It’s hard for non-teaching staff at UT to find the time and money to go abroad,” Tipton, company manager at the Clarence Brown Theatre, said. “This program allows administrative and other faculty positions to get a great abroad experience and share their passions with a different culture of college students.”
    
According to Alisa Meador, administrative coordinator for the Tsinghua program, the camp also provides students a non-traditional abroad experience.
    
“Any major can go, and it’s not for any academic credit,” Meador said. “It takes the pressure off going abroad. Also, not many students get to experience Chinese culture firsthand.”
    
During the months beforehand and at the actual camp, the students and teachers chosen from UT have the chance to bond and form mentoring relationships.
    
“They really form a tight cohort and become a cohesive group,” Meador said. “We encourage students to have mentors and strengthen their support network while at UT. The program helps foster this kind of support.”
   
 Perhaps the most interesting part of the program is the way the Chinese students get to be immersed in Western culture. Some of the topics that were taught in the past few years include Internet dating, tailgating and American theater.
    
“It’s just a completely different atmosphere over there,” Tipton said. “The students want to soak up everything we tell them about how we live. They love our movies, music and culture.”
    
The applications can be found on UT’s study abroad website. Teacher applications are due Feb. 15 and student applications are due March 7.