Many American citizens are well known for lack of interest and knowledge about foreign countries and cultures. They are paying a huge price for that ignorance. In an increasingly globalized and inter-connected world, that price would be higher and higher.
Since I began teaching at Western Illinois University, I understand that as a foreign professor, I have both the expertise and obligation to familiarize my students with global issues in mass communications. Mass communication professionals (e.g. reporters, editors, public relations officers) won’t be competent communicators if they don’t have basic sensitivity to foreign cultures.
With those thinking in mind, I have been trying to internationalize my course content. When I teach U.S. media law, I frequently refer to similar laws in China and other countries. When I teach foreign press, I would invite reporters and public relations officers from across the world to talk with my students, via Skype, about how those guests think of American journalism. One approach, however, applies to all courses I teach. That is: Create an elegant Chinese name for each single student I teach.
I started doing this extra work since August 2011. Students like that. Why not? First, it is absolutely free. I don’t charge them a penny. Second, students get some extra credit if they could write down their Chinese names on various assignments. I like it too. Sharing Chinese names with students is a good ice breaker. Most importantly, Chinese names bring students to a world that is so different from their own.
Below are Chinese names I created for all students in my JOUR440 class (digital media skills for journalists and public relations professionals) in the spring 2015 semester. Do they look gorgeous?
You may say “Yes” but do not assume that I wrote them. I am not a calligrapher at all. Here is why they look so good: After I finished the lengthy creation, I put my work into a web-based conversion application that automatically generates Wang Xizhi-style Chinese characters. Wang is the most influential Chinese calligrapher. No competitors before or after him. So those characters are beautiful, aren’t they?
(The last is Professor Tang’s Chinese name)