For much of her life, Tahlequah native and Northeastern State University student Haley Stocks has been fascinated by the people, culture and language of China, and in visits to the country she has found that the interest is reciprocated.
As part of an ongoing effort to encourage Chinese students to consider attending NSU, Stocks took part in the China Education Expo in Beijing on Oct. 20-21 in the China World Exhibition Hall.
"This was my third trip to China," Stocks said. "I think many Chinese students find NSU interesting because it is in the central U.S. and side-by-side with the Cherokee Nation. If they come here they can experience American values and traditions, but also Native American values and traditions."
Stocks visited China with the assistance of CIBT Education Group Inc., a Canada-based education management company.
"There were more than 400 universities from around the world represented at the expo," Stocks said. "It is growing so quickly that the move it to a new location each year. I was told to expect 25-30 visits from students, parents and agents, but I saw closer to 75."
Those who visited with Stocks at the NSU booth often stressed similar concerns.
"Firstly, they wanted to know about safety and cost," she said. "NSU is very safe, and when I scouted around at some of the other booths, I found that its tuition was very competitive."
Visitors were also interested in the courses of study offered by NSU.
"The majors they asked about most were international business and MBA programs," she said. "I also got a lot more questions about our dietetics program than I was expecting."
Stocks welcomed two familiar faces to her booth when NSU President Steve Turner and his wife Penny dropped by the expo. Turner was in China to visit Weifang University, with which NSU has established a productive partnership in student and cultural exchange.
"The visit to China was so much more than I expected," Turner said. "Penny and I were touched by the hospitality shown by our hosts at each of the campuses. We were humbled by the zeal of the students – 400,000 were projected to attend the college fair in Beijing – to participate in a system of higher education that we take for granted. I was also mindful of the culture shock one might feel if moving from Shanghai, a city of 20 million, to Oklahoma with a population of 3.7 million. Our Office of International Programs works to ease such transitions for students, and we must continue to bring the world to our students through these great international partnerships."
Turner praised the Office of International Programs for its decision to have students serve as recruiters.
"It does not matter if you are in Tahlequah or Beijing, students recruit students," he said. "The Chinese students and their families want to talk to American students about what it is really like in the United States. Haley is an articulate representative for NSU who speaks with kindness and first-hand knowledge of what is required to have an exceptional educational experience."
Stocks, an honor student who was named Miss Northeastern in 2009, was thankful for another opportunity to visit a country she finds so appealing.
"It was a good feeling to go to a foreign land and feel comfortable and at ease," she said. "I knew what to expect from the people and how to function in the culture and I enjoyed every minute of it."