UW Advance gives international students a taste of American life, culture, and academics

UW Advance luncheon

Lunch was just one of the reasons 44 undergraduates from China gathered at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Carson Gulley Center on Oct. 13. They enjoyed a warm meal, but celebrating UW Advance was the first item on the menu.

UW Advance is a new program that immerses international college students in American culture and academics for four weeks. Students develop skills such as leadership and interpersonal communication while learning about the latest trends in science, technology, education, and business. Throughout it all, they practice written and conversational English.

The event honored the program’s first cohort, who received a warm sendoff from teachers, advisors, and Jeff Russell, dean of Continuing Studies and vice provost for lifelong learning. The next day, the students returned to their academic homes, Ningbo University and Zhejiang Normal University.

Russell told the students they’ll always be welcome at UW–Madison and urged them to stay connected. He also thanked them for bringing the Wisconsin Idea to life.

“We want people from around the world to come here and share their lives with us. We learn from you as you learn from us, and we hope you’ll leave a special place in your hearts for the University of Wisconsin and Madison,” he said.

Becoming Badgers

UW–Madison began its relationship with China in the 1920s, when its first Chinese student enrolled. Today, 46% of its international student population hails from the Chinese mainland, according to the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Experiences like UW Advance encourage students to apply to the university’s graduate programs and share their experiences with friends and loved ones.

Several students shared these experiences at the luncheon. Jiaqian (Carol) Fang, an undergrad from Zhejiang Normal University, explained how UW Advance made her first trip abroad a success.

“I was surprised how hardworking the students in Madison are. This motivates me a lot. I’ve also obtained time-management skills, teamwork skills, and friendships that will benefit my future studies and my life,” she said.

Fang also fell in love with the UW–Madison campus. She was especially taken with its fun side.

“I’m in love with the variety of tasty ice cream, the beautiful scenery, and people’s enthusiasm about sports,” she said with a smile.

There were plenty more smiles as director Christine Inthachith congratulated the group for their achievements, distributed participation certificates, and played a slideshow featuring candid shots of classes, field trips, and social events. See the gallery below for more of these photos.

Students lingered after the event to pose for pictures, thank teachers and mentors, and say goodbye to their new friends. They’ll return to China as Badgers, ready to take on the world.

For more information about UW Advance, contact Christine Inthachith at christine.inthachith@wisc.edu.