Beijing, one of the world’s oldest cities, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Located on the edge of the North China Plain, it is the second largest city in the country with a population of more than 12 million. Beijing is a city of contrasts where the ultra-modern and the historical live side by side: the latest computers and cell phones coexist with the abacus; neon discos and nightclubs stand next to ancient temples. Inhabited by cave dwellers some 500,000 years ago and rebuilt by Kublai Khan in 1215 AD, Beijing—once a capital for Mongol and Manchu—is destined to be one of the most important cities of the 21st century. Fresh from a massive urban renewal in conjunction with the 2008 Olympic Games, China’s bustling capital city of Beijing is the nation’s political, educational, and cultural center. It has more universities and research institutes than any other city in China, making it the intellectual hub of the country.
The Host University
BC in Beijing is hosted at the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). Founded in 1962, BLCU is considered to be one of China’s premier institutions for the teaching of Chinese language and culture to foreigners. The majority of Chinese language textbooks are written at and by BLCU professors and are used in Chinese classrooms across the U.S. and throughout the world. Beijing Language and Culture University confers degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels and is comprised of 11 faculties and research institutes. The university hosts 14,000 foreign and Chinese students and is located in the Haidian district, which is home to the majority of Beijing’s universities.
BC in Beijing will run Fall and Spring semesters beginning in Fall 2014. Students take a 3-credit Chinese language course, with no language prerequisite (in addition to a 6-credit track option), a designated core course, and choose electives in economics, environmental studies, film studies, fine arts, international affairs, political science, and sociology. Internships are also available at Chinese and foreign-owned companies, think tanks, NGOs, and media or art studios, in addition to volunteer opportunities with local and international organizations.
BC in Beijing provides a mandatory 3-4 day orientation program upon students’ arrival in country to introduce them to different aspects of the program. The Resident Director, Ms. Katharine (Kitty) Poundstone, is responsible for directing the academic program and placing students in internship sites, organizing and leading orientation and excursions, serves as a cultural resource, upholds the program’s academic and health and safety policies, and provides emergency assistance.
On-campus housing or homestays with Beijing families are two options that students can choose from. Student accommodation will be in an international student dormitory in double rooms with other international students. Rooms are wired for high-speed internet. Each floor is equipped with washing machines and kitchen with stove and microwave. Two semesters of Chinese language are a prerequisite to placement in a homestay with a local family.
Moving beyond the classroom, students integrate into the local community through co-curricular activities and volunteer opportunities. The BC in Beijing offers co-curricular activities such as calligraphy, Chinese cooking, and kung fu lessons during the semester program. Field visits to local museums, corporations, and historic sites are included as well as a week-long filed study trip to central and western Chinese provinces, which exposes students to China’s social, economic, and geographic diversity.