Getting students to think globally

Deciding to move across the world to go to high school was an easy decision for Ruby Han. It’s a common trend in China, her home country. She wanted something new, and she wanted a chance to learn in America.

At the University of South Carolina, Han has found a diverse community to interact with. That community is driving her to get involved across campus, from Freshman Council to Carolina’s thriving international groups. 

Two years ago, Han came to America to attend high school in Greenville, S.C., hoping to end up in college here, too. 

“It’s a totally different journey. It’s new. I didn’t find any reason not to come,” says Han, a student in the Darla Moore School of Business.  

In America, Han has found school to be more open, allowing her more free time to get involved and study at her own pace. She has also been exposed to multiple cultures and meeting a variety of people. 

“I meet different people every day. In China our life is kind of limited because we’re in the same classroom all day,” she says. “America is a diverse country so you can meet people who aren’t from here, too.” 

At Carolina, she’s even found a program that helps her share her culture with Americans. Through the university’s International Student Services, Han has become involved with Thinking Globally, which takes international students to local schools to discuss their cultures. 

This semester 49 ambassadors from dozens of countries have visited at least seven community schools and 45 University 101 classes. The program is having an impact, with students reporting an increased interest in international issues and other countries after the class visits. 

Han’s first experience with the program involved visiting Dreher High School’s Chinese class. Students listened to Han and Kwan In Peony Lung, a Chinese exchange student from Hong Kong, describe life in China. 

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us and a fantastic thing to broaden our vision so we can see China through another view,” says Qian Yuan, the director of the Chinese Program at Dreher. 

Han told students about the full class schedule she took in China, which kept her in school from early morning until late at night. She talked about her favorite places to visit like the Great Wall and her favorite Chinese performers such as Jane Zhang. 

Sharing China with American students is something Han loves. She first started talking about her home in high school. 

“I wanted to continue to do that in college. I think the most important reason is that I’m proud of my country; I’m proud of my background,” she says. “I want to share where I’m from, what I know about my hometown.” 

As an international business student, Han realizes the importance of expanding her understanding of different cultures. She plans to study abroad in Europe and return for a semester of college in China.

“In the future, people from different backgrounds will work together more and more,” says Han. “For students now, we have to be prepared for that.”


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UofSC will celebrate its diverse international students during International Education Week, Nov. 17-21. With a parade and a bazaar, Carolina can expect to see all its cultures on display around campus. For more information on events throughout the week, find the schedule here.

Faculty and teachers can find out more about the Thinking Globally program and requesting class visits and students can find out more about getting involved here.  

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