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ASU partners with Sichuan University, Chinese language summer program

Students in China study abroad program
October 25, 2012

In partnership with the School of Overseas Study at Sichuan University in China and the ASU Confucius Institute, ASU's School of International Letters and Cultures is offering an intensive eight-week Chinese Language program this summer at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.

The School of International Letters and Cultures’ study abroad programs are among the longest running and most prestigious at Arizona State University. Founded in 1981, and directed by knowledgeable, world-class faculty, the programs offer students the opportunity to experience and study international humanities and learn languages firsthand while earning credit toward their degree.

The Sichuan University Summer Chinese Language program is particularly unique in that students, supervised by School of International Letters and Cultures faculty of Chinese, complete one full academic year of Chinese language coursework in just eight weeks.

Students have the option to take 10 credits of second-, third-, or fourth-year Chinese, or to take only one language course and a same-level topics course for six credits. This track of study allows students to continue seamlessly back to fall term Chinese courses at ASU.

“The classroom experience is amazing, and your Chinese skills will progress quickly, but the learning experience does not stop in the classroom,” says former participant Danielle Van Vleet. “In fact, you will find yourself practicing Chinese all day, and it's pretty amazing.”

In addition to regularly scheduled class hours, students in the program meet with individual language tutors for additional practice and integration into Chengdu life.

Students are housed two to a room in the newest foreign student dormitory on Sichuan University's main campus, which features laundry service, cooking areas, and in suite modern bathrooms with showers. The living arrangements provide “an opportunity to meet and establish connections with Chinese students abroad and American students with similar majors,” says former participant Julia Noellert. “Your Chinese language ability will substantially increase with personal tutors, a full class schedule, and excursions into the city and to tourist destinations,” she adds.

Chengdu and Sichuan Province have a long, rich history, from the relics of the Sanxingdui culture to the tall green mountains dotted with ancient Daoist and Buddhist temples. Chengdu is an ancient, fascinating city located between the heartland of Chinese civilization and the Tibetan plateau. It is also a place of scenic wonder, including the famous Jiuzhaigou, a place that has been called “The Yosemite of China” for its natural beauty. Plus, spicy food lovers will delight in Sichuan’s famous tasty cuisine, the earliest “regional” cuisine to be recorded in China.

“Chengdu is the best of both worlds,” says former participant Christopher Palfi. “On one hand you get a world class city, and on the other you get a city that still feels inherently Chinese.” 

The Sichuan University Summer Chinese Language program offers great opportunities to immerse oneself in the rich Sichuan culture through weekend excursions, cultural lectures and visits to local historical sites such as Sanxingdui Museum, the site of an ancient Chinese, Bronze Age city where, in 1987, archaeologist excavated remarkable artifacts dating from the 12th and 11th centuries BCE, and the Beichuan Earthquake Museum where the devastation of the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 is exhibited. 

Students also visit Mount Qingcheng, where they learn more about Buddhism in China, the famous Dujiangyan Irrigation System, the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, Mount Emei, and the Giant Buddha at Leshan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the tallest pre-modern statue in the world.

“The field trips were a great way to experience China outside the big city. By going to places like Beichuan and Qingcheng shan, we got to see how life and scenery was for the rest of Sichuan. Not to mention, these places are inherently tied to Chinese history and culture,” says Palfi.

“One simply cannot go to China and not see some of the amazing sights it has to offer. The field trips were just as important as the class time,” says Van Vleet, “The trips gave me the opportunity to connect with Chinese culture and explore with classmates on the weekend.”  

For students interested in exploring even more of China, the program offers time to do so with an intersession break during which some students choose to travel to other parts of the country including other major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

About the experience overall, former participant Jonny Dangerfield says, “Participating in ASU's Sichuan program was, and continues to be a life-changing experience for me. Because the program is located in the heart of Sichuan University's campus, I was able to interact with scores of Chinese students my age, use my language skills to learn about their life and culture, and ultimately forge friendships that would provide invaluable motivation to continue my Chinese studies when I returned home.”

ASU students interested in the program, but worried about funding, may apply for summer fellowships from the ASU Confucius Institute. These fellowships, awarded on a mix of need and merit, range from $500 to $1,000 for students who qualify.

For more information about the program, contact Katie Curiel at

Applications accepted through the ASU Study Abroad Office. 

The School of International Letters and Cultures and ASU's Confucius Institute are academic and research units in the  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.