Chinese attracted to BYU

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    By Marie Williams

    BYU’s Young Ambassadors dance style may be one of the reasons more graduate students from China than any other foreign country attend BYU.

    “At first, the only thing I had heard about BYU was its dance team,” said Qirong Wu, a graduate student from Jiangsu, China, studying analytical chemistry.

    Wu belongs to the increasing population of BYU graduate students from China. As of summer term, 38% of international graduate students came from China, which is more than the total amount of international graduate students from Africa, South America, Central America and the Middle East combined.

    With 13 students, Canada provides BYU with the second largest amount of international graduate students.

    The Office of Graduate Studies responds to 90-120 email queries from international students each day. The majority of those emails are from China, said Ryan Pitts, an international admissions specialist.

    According to Katie Rollins, the department of chemistry’s graduate secretary, the fact that BYU will fully support it’s graduate students through teaching and research assignments helps explain that graduate applications from China have been increasing three-fold in the Chemistry department. Currently, 33% of graduate students in the Chemistry department are from China.

    Chunhong Li, a graduate student from Beijing, China, studying organic chemistry, said that he was drawn to BYU because of its commitment to the growth and development of its students.

    “Also, BYU is well-known in China through the dance troupes,” said Li.

    Besides an academic experience, BYU has also been a religious experience for Li. Due to the influence of friendly roommates and ward activities, Li was converted to the LDS faith two years ago.

    “My experience here has been fulfilling and rewarding,” said Li.

    Along with its performing groups, a peaceful and friendly environment is another pull factor for Chinese students.

    BYU has a good environment which makes it easier for foreign students to adjust, said Ting Hu, a graduate student from Xian, China, studying Chemistry.

    “Xian is a very big city and very crowded. Provo is very small and peaceful. I like that,” said Hu.

    Hu arrived in Provo from China two months ago, without any friends or family to welcome her. Although she said she experienced culture shock, her socially active American roommates and a few parties have helped her improve her English.

    After graduating, Hu plans to return to China and work at a pharmaceutical company.

    For some Chinese students, the peaceful environment of Provo is a little too quiet.

    “I felt like I came from a big city to the countryside, ” said Haiyan Bian, a graduate student from Nanjing, China, studying organic chemistry.

    Bian accompanied her husband to BYU with the intent of staying at home and looking after their eight-year-old son. However, the environment of Provo, which is safer than Nanjing, enabled her to pursue her master’s degree at BYU, she said.

    BYU does not recruit students from China, and along with standard admission procedures international graduate students must also show proof of financial responsibility for the entire length of their stay.

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