University News

WIU Takes Part in Higher Ed Trade Mission to China

May 1, 2014

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MACOMB, IL -- For the second consecutive year, Western Illinois University was among a group of public and private universities from the State of Illinois to participate in a 15-day State of Illinois-sponsored Higher Education Trade Mission to China. Western, represented by Rick Carter, executive director of the School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach, was one of four Illinois public institutions participating in the 2014 trip, which took place in mid-March.

Carter, and representatives from nine other Illinois colleges and universities and select state agencies, met with government and education officials and prospective students. Sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the trade mission was organized by the State of Illinois' China Office and Beijing Overseas-Study Service Association. The focus of the program is to promote Illinois' education resources and build a platform for educational partnerships. Participants visited three major regions, including Shanghai, during the 15-day journey.

According to Carter, Western participates in these invitation-only programs because they support the University's goal to increase the number of international students who select Western as their college of choice, as well as to enhance WIU's study abroad, internship and academic cohort opportunities.

"In 15 days, I visited 13 high schools, five universities, three expos and 13 governmental agencies in the country," he noted. "The students are so interested in our University and what we have to offer. It's an honor to be invited to take part in the state's trade mission and to showcase higher education opportunities."

As a result of the recent trip, three leaders from the Liaoning Association for International Understanding, along with Zhigang Ren of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, who led the 2014 trade mission, will visit WIU's Macomb campus May 5-6. Liaoning officials will meet with Carter and WIU leadership to discuss possible partnership, exchange and language training opportunities.

Carter's participation in the 2013 trade mission led to a visit from Shanghai Donghai Vocational Technical College's President Xiang Jiaxiang, which then resulted in a partnership between WIU and the technical college. During the Spring 2014 semester, 25 students from Shanghai attended Western's English as a Second Language (WESL) program, while three teachers called Western's Macomb campus home for five weeks as they undertook intensive ESL training. During the 2012-13 academic year, Nolan Zuo, a professor at the college, served as a visiting scholar at Western, and five College of Business and Technology students participated in a study abroad trip to China as part of a Caterpillar Foundation partnership with WIU.

Carter's 2014 travels are far from over, as he and WIU President Jack Thomas will travel to Korea in May to meet with education officials, visit with students and will host an alumni event in Seoul. In June, Carter will attend the EducationUSA Forum in Washington, D.C. and visit with Embassy of Thailand officials.

For more information on Western's Center for International Studies, including WESL and study abroad programs, visit

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Office of University Relations