Chinese educators tour Ridgewater College
WILLMAR -- The visiting teachers crowded around auto body instructor Joe Wambeke as he described what students learn in the Ridgewater College auto body program.
WILLMAR - The visiting teachers crowded around auto body instructor Joe Wambeke as he described what students learn in the Ridgewater College auto body program.
The teachers, mostly instructors from similar programs in China, listened intently to Wambeke’s description of his program and the equipment students learn to use.
They were part of a group of about two dozen administrators and instructors from Chinese colleges who toured Ridgewater’s Willmar campus Wednesday morning.
The group arrived late Monday and will be visiting Minnesota State Colleges and Universities campuses for the next 10 days.
The goal of the program is to build understanding and to develop relationships between MnSCU campuses and schools in China, said Betty Strehlow, Ridgewater’s vice president of academic affairs.
The Chinese group had a list of programs they wanted to see at each campus, she said. At Ridgewater, that was auto body, auto technician, computer science and multimedia design.
College President Douglas Allen welcomed the group and said the potential partnerships could present exciting opportunities for students in both countries.
The group split up to tour the different parts of the campus. Two interpreters traveled with them, and Todd Lynum, Mandarin Chinese teacher at Willmar Senior High School, also helped interpret on the Willmar tours.
Wambeke began with the group in the auto body area. He talked about the things the students learn, like specialty welding, and said, “By the end of the first semester, they will have painted their first car.”
The teachers had questions about how long students spend in class each week and how they split their time between academics and hands-on technical education.
“Our purpose to come here is to exchange ideas on vocational education,” Cen Yong, an assistant president at Ningbo Polytechnic, said in English.
The group was headed to Southwest Minnesota State University at Marshall Wednesday afternoon and would be touring two campuses each day during their visit. In Willmar, the group also toured NovaTech Engineering on the MinnWest Technology Campus before going to Marshall.
Xu Hanwen, vice president and professor at Wuxi Institute of Commerce, said through her interpretation, that he felt the curriculum here is “a bit more practical.” Chinese students spend about 10 percent less of their time on technical education, he said.
Ding Jibin, a professor at Nanjing Institute of Industrial Technology, said, “Lots of things are very similar” to the auto technician classes he teaches, but the classes are much larger in China.
“I can see that the community college is really for the community,” he said. It was a sentiment shared by other visitors. One commented, “No wall.”
Others commented on the beauty of Ridgewater’s campus.