United They Stand

By Ashley Festa

Students and administrators from the U.S., Mexico and China Incarnate Word campuses
Students and administrators from the U.S., Mexico and China Incarnate Word campuses were united for the first time in China for a two-week study abroad.

Piece of History

Terracotta Warrior

The University of the Incarnate Word purchased a replica of a Terracotta Warrior, which they plan to display in the lobby of the Grossman International Conference Center after a bit of redecorating.
The Terracotta Army was constructed around 210 BC for thefirst emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang Di. The warriors filled four pits of his mausoleum, the largest ever discovered in the world. They have been called the “eighth wonder of the world.”

The warrior UIW bought was a replica of one of the kneeling archers. Dr. Pat Watkins, UIW vice president for international programs, said they chose the kneeling archer because it’s the most historically reliable version. She explained that of all the Terracotta Warriors that have been found (more than 8,000 so far), only a few of the kneeling archers have been found intact. The rest of the Terracotta Army, including generals, warriors, chariots, horses, acrobats and others, were found broken and had to be reconstructed. So, UIW officials felt it was a more accurate representation of history to choose one that hadn’t been recreated from broken pieces.

Watkins mentioned an interesting tidbit about the Terracotta Army: Of all the warriors that have been found, no two faces have been exactly the same.

This spring, seven students from the University of the Incarnate Word and five from Centro Universitario Incarnate Word, UIW’s Mexico campus, traveled to meet students at China Incarnate Word on a two-week study abroad trip that united all three campuses for the first time.

The whole process began more than a year ago, when students from the Mexico campus discussed their desire to see the China campus with Marcos Fragoso ’07 MBA, director of Centro Universitario Incarnate Word. He discussed the idea with Dr. Pat Watkins, UIW vice president for international programs, who talked to Dr. Lydia Andrade, UIW associate professor of political science.

Officials from both campuses believed it would be a great educational experience for the students, and eventually an idea to do a study abroad involving all three campuses evolved. The students left North America on March 14 headed for Beijing, China. They planned to meet the Chinese students in Shanghai after touring some of China's most famous sites.

The group had the opportunity not only to visit China Incarnate Word, but they also were able to experience the wonders of a new country and new culture.

In Beijing, the students visited the Great Wall of China and other landmarks. From there, they made their way to Xi’an, China, where they toured the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di, which is guarded by the impressive Terracotta Army.

After enjoying some of China’s most incredible sights, the American and Mexican students traveled to Shanghai where they met the Chinese students, who showed them around the city. Then the group went to Guangzhou, the location of China Incarnate Word.

The students spent the day visiting the campus, participating in classes and getting to know some of the Chinese students.

ribbon-cutting ceremony

The group celebrated the opening of the computer lab dedicated solely to China Incanate Word with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The curriculum at China Incarnate Word is in English. That day, Dr. Pat Gower, a UIW professor of history who is on sabbatical, was teaching an American history class. Travis Lamkin taught English Composition I, and Dr. Osman Özturgut taught Analytical Decision Making. Visiting students were able to participate in three classes thanks to a special schedule set up for the study-abroad experience.

The group celebrated the opening of a state-of-the-art computer lab dedicated solely to China Incarnate Word with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Students can use the lab
to practice their English or to take a course taught from UIW over Blackboard, among other things.

computer lab

China Incarnate Word now has a state-of-the-art computer lab.

At the end of the day, the whole group enjoyed a huge barbecue, which gave them the opportunity to mingle and to get to know one another better.

The UIW and Mexico students studied Chinese history before visiting the country to help them understand the significance of the landmarks they visited. They also learned the dos and don’ts of Chinese culture so they would understand proper cultural etiquette.

“We were so proud,” Watkins said of the students.

She said she felt the trip had a significant impact on both the American and the Mexican students.

“They got a much deeper understanding of how their own university has impacted other parts of the world,” she said.

Visiting another part of the world, especially one that seems so different from their cultures, seemed to make an impact as well.

“It makes the world just a little bit smaller and a little bit less scary,” Watkins said. “Talking to people with the same goals, they just realize all of a sudden, ‘maybe Chinese, maybe Mexican, people are the same.’ They have the same gut-level concerns about life. I think they all realized that.”

Marcos Fragoso -07 MBA, director of Centro Universitario Incarnate Word

Marcos Fragoso '07 MBA, director of Centro Universitario Incarnate Word, visits the Great Wall of China with the group while sightseeing in China.

Not only did the trip influence the North American group, but Watkins said she felt the Chinese students were also positively affected.

“They know they’re part of UIW, but all of a sudden, they had students from UIW and the Mexico university wanting to come see them,” she said. “Everyone is always telling them, ‘You should visit the U.S.,’ but this was people from the U.S. wanting to come see them.”

In the end, the experience left all the Incarnate Word students feeling more connected, regardless of their nationality.