For the summer of 2014, UT's Center for International Education is offering an opportunity for a small group of students and teachers to instruct English at the Tsinghua University English Summer Camp in Beijing, China.
Tsinghua University's summer camp is one of the largest in the world, with approximately 3,200 Chinese college students attending between their freshman and sophomore years.
Katey Robinson, a junior in global studies and past participant in the program, spoke positively of the trip.
"I would absolutely do it again," Robinson said. "Any chance to be so immersed in another culture is an invaluable experience."
In this three-week intensive camp, Chinese students are taught basic reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Volunteers also teach about American life and culture, pronunciation, grammar and lead group discussions.
The on-site coordinator, Betty Tipton, is passionate about this program and said it benefits UT in mutliple ways.
"We can recruit Chinese students to UT ... but we can also introduce other students and faculty here to the culture that we have experienced and encourage them to embrace China," Tipton said, "... and to see it in a much more positive light than our media would have us believe."
Established in 2005, the program addressed a need for Tsinghua's freshmen to acquire better communication skills and prepare volunteers for the 2008 Olympics. After 2007, the camp was formally concluded. Yet, due to requests from Tsinghua students, it was reinstated in 2010.
Robinson said she was surprised to find that she identified so closely with the Chinese students.
"We're all college students going through the same things," Robinson said.
Tipton admitted the application process is very competitive.
The happy partnership between UT and Tsinghua University is largely due to the quality of students and teachers chosen to go. Even so, teaching in another country poses challenged. As Tipton explained, Chinese students are initially very hesitant to use their limited speaking skills.
Despite such obstacles, Robinson's experience offered useful lessons.
"The most valuable things I learned were to always be open-minded to other cultures, and which street vendors have the best dumplings," Robinson said.
The next available dates for the Tsinghua University English Summer Camp are June 27 through July 19 in 2014. Information sessions are available in the Programs Abroad Office Resource Room on Wednesday Oct. 16 from 10-11 a.m. and Thursday Oct. 17 from 3-4 p.m.