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Cultural connections

On Feb. 13, two delegations from opposite sides of the world met in Old Main’s Levitt Hall. Drake University administrators welcomed a delegation of officials from Hebei Province in China, led by Gov. Zhang Qingwei. Drake first welcomed a delegation from Hebei Province — Iowa’s Sister State — in 1987.

The relationship between Drake University and Hebei Province is an important one to the University, whose mission statement emphasizes the importance of helping students become global citizens.

Hebei Province Meeting
Drake University administrators and Hebei Province officials meet in Levitt Hall

“Drake University’s exceptional learning environment is not just a physical campus in Des Moines,” said President David Maxwell in his comments to the Chinese delegation. “Thanks to our partnerships with institutions in Hebei, that exceptional learning environment is global.”

The delegation was greeted by the Drake University choir singing “Drake Alma Mater” on the steps of Old Main before proceeding into Levitt Hall for their meeting with Drake University officials. Interpreters facilitated communication between the two groups. They then went on to the Cowles Library Reading Room to meet with faculty and students, who all had personal experience in Hebei or Shijiazhuang, the capitol of Hebei Province.

Since Drake’s relationship began with Hebei Province 25 years ago, the University has sent 114 graduates to Hebei as part of the Teach in China program, which offers recent graduates from any academic background the opportunity to live and work in China for a year. Other Drake programs have sent 72 students for research and study in Hebei over the past 15 years.

Drake has also welcomed dozens of visiting scholars from Hebei and has sent 15 of its own faculty members to Hebei for short-term visits through its faculty exchange program.

“Hebei and its people have played important roles in preparing Drake students for responsible global citizenship,” says Kirk Martin, director of the Chinese Cultural Exchange Program. “By having such a high-level delegation from Hebei wanting to come to campus, we see what an impact Drake has had in China as well.”

The Chinese delegation’s visit is just another example of the important cultural events happening on the Drake campus. The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship has a full schedule of events happening in the spring 2012 semester. The center is partnering with the Chinese Cultural Exchange Program to sponsor a series of Chinese visiting scholars from prestigious institutions this semester, including a lecture by Chu Jianfang, a Freeman Scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a concert by Cui Jinlan and Lin Jing, faculty members from Central Nationalities University in Beijing. For a full list of the semester’s events, click here.