Uptown Greenville, NC


PCC Partnership with China’s Wuxi Institute Produces First Graduates

WINTERVILLE (July 5, 2012)—Pitt Community College’s partnership with China’s Wuxi Institute of Technology (WXIT) passed an important milestone last month, as 35 students from the Chinese vocational school received degrees and/or certificates through the collaboration.

Wearing blue caps and gowns like their PCC counterparts in North Carolina, the students took part in a special graduation ceremony on the WXIT campus on June 16. In attendance were parents, classmates and Pitt and Wuxi faculty and staff members responsible for fostering the partnership between the two schools.

Of the 35 graduates, 21 received International Design and Manufacturing certificates while 14 earned both the certificate and an associate degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology.

Out of 46 students who have taken courses with PCC instructors, 76 percent have been successful in completing their studies.

Last month’s graduation was the product of a partnership that began taking shape in June 2006, when Dr. Dan Mayo, dean of Pitt’s Public Services and Fine Arts Division, visited China through UNC-Chapel Hill’s World View program. During the trip, Mayo met with Wuxi administrators to explore the possibility of an educational collaboration.

“I was certainly excited about the prospect of a partnership with WXIT, but I was also cautiously optimistic,” Mayo recalled this week. “I was well aware that a project of this scale was unprecedented and would present many challenges.”

Mayo said in addition to PCC, several other U.S. and international colleges were seeking to partner with WXIT, which is a national model institution responsible for setting standards for all of China’s vocational schools to follow.

“It seemed a long shot that a small community college in eastern North Carolina, with limited international experience, would partner with such a big institution in China,” Mayo said.

But Mayo’s efforts eventually paid off, as WXIT sent a delegation to the United States in February 2007 to visit PCC, Green River Community College and Daytona State College. Mayo says it was Pitt’s programming strength and overall atmosphere that eventually resulted in a second Wuxi visit in March 2008 that produced the framework for a cooperative agreement concerning mechanical engineering training.

In the four years since that agreement was put in place, PCC has hosted more than 24 different WXIT faculty and staff members on 11 separate visits. The college has also sent more than 27 different faculty and staff to China on teaching assignments and quality assurance visits that were funded in part or entirely by WXIT.

Andre Gregory, PCC coordinator of International Programs and Services, attended last month’s Wuxi graduation and said the result of the hard work put in by both schools was on display during the event, which featured the playing of both the Chinese and U.S. National Anthems.

“There were a lot of memorable speeches and words of encouragement, but the student response speech by Jungyi Yang stood out the most, for me,” Gregory said. “Not only was his speech in English, which assuaged any fears I had of the Chinese students being able to speak the language proficiently, but it was engaging and heartfelt.”

Gregory said he also enjoyed watching graduates pose for photos with WXIT President Yong Dai and Dr. Donald Spell, PCC vice president of Student Development Services, while holding degrees from both Pitt and WXIT.

“For those who worked closely with the project, it showed that international collaboration on this scale is possible,” Gregory said. “We were able to take the best of what both China and the U.S. have to offer—their people—and create something that previously did not exist.”

During graduation, WXIT administrators honored a Wuxi faculty member and PCC’s Calvin Mayo for instructional excellence. Mayo, who is Pitt’s curriculum coordinator for Computer Integrated Machining, has traveled to WXIT on four separate occasions to instruct students in a variety of classes.

“Calvin’s hard work, flexibility and commitment are the main reasons why we were able to have a commencement ceremony,” Gregory said.

Following commencement, graduates posed for a group photo and tossed their graduation caps into the air to celebrate the moment.

“Seeing the joy on their faces was like reading a ‘thank you’ note to our English instructors and the Wuxi foreign affairs office, which worked so hard on English instruction,” Gregory said.

“Hearing them cheer was like hearing a resounding chorus of gratitude to our technical instructors, and seeing them jump into the air served as a reminder of all of the work that takes place behind the scenes by administration and student services,” he continued. “Without all of these units working together, none of this would be possible.”

Gregory said the next stage in PCC-WXIT agreement would involve student exchange study, internships and cultural visits. Both colleges, he said, would benefit from deeper academic and social engagement.

PHOTO LINK 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36280787@N07/7495204522/