Dr. Kong Kaishan, Associate Professor and Program Advisor for Teaching English as a Foreign Language with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has received the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program Award. She has chosen to travel to Malaysia and contribute to the Taylor’s University American Degree Transfer Program (ADTP) community through teaching, learning and research activities. During her 3-month stint with ADTP, she actively conducted guest lectures on various topics leaning toward language and culture.
Dr. Kong’s talk titled “Striving and Thriving: Suggestions for Study Abroad Students” revolved around intercultural competence and how students could navigate their undergraduate journeys in foreign countries. Dr. Kong shared tips on Do’s and Don’ts in different social settings and what she found useful in her own journey as a student in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. She also provided encouraging advice to our students and reassured them that anyone who resides outside of their home country would experience culture shock – it is what you do and how you cope with the culture shock that will make the difference in terms of gaining a valuable and meaningful university experience abroad. Her tips, personal experiences and invaluable advice created an engaging and heartfelt webinar session for our students.
The second guest lecture for a group of students enrolled into the Introduction to Creative Writing module focused on the importance of developing intercultural competency to become a competent writer. In this rather interactive session, Dr. Kong engaged the participants by actively posing questions in the chat and picking up on their responses to further discuss and elaborate on the importance of developing an ethnorelative lens which is essential in producing writing that embraces cultures across the globe. Dr. Kong emphasized the importance of nurturing one’s intercultural competence by heightening his/her awareness of connotations. Both students and Dr. Kong had fun moments deciphering the various everyday connotations within our language and cultural exchanges.
Dr. Kong also conducted another interesting one-hour lecture on the Development of China’s Traditional Values. Her talk focused on two core values of Chinese society – frugality and wisdom. She highlighted that the modernization of China, since the 1980s, has altered these values. Once known for their frugality and simplicity, China’s nouveau rich have developed a flashier lifestyle, splurging cash on fast cars and branded handbags. However, Dr. Kong also highlighted that there is also another side to China which comprises poor peasants and those ‘left-behind’. Our students were moved by Dr. Kong’s passionate views on education among the Chinese, on how the latter valued wisdom as a long-lasting legacy of Confucianism and Imperial Examinations of the past. Overall, the guest lecture has given meaningful insights and broken a few stereotypes that we hold of China and her traditional values.