Professor Returns to SUU after 10 Months in China

Published: October 08, 2014 | Category: Academics

Dr. Kevin Stein is back on campus this fall after ten months in China, where he and his family lived while the SUU communication professor served as a visiting professor at the Hunan Normal University. Now back on U.S. soil, Stein will reflect on his experiences teaching and living abroad and discuss his work to develop SUU's American Studies Center in Changsha in an open presentation on his sabbatical in the Sterling Church Auditorium on Monday, October 13, at noon.

Stein said the American Studies Center hardly had any office space when he arrived. Last January, Stein, Provost Cook and Kurt Harris were able to present a grand opening of the center. The purpose of the center is to educate the Chinese about American culture.

“It is to do activities that teach the local community and the students about American culture,” Stein said. “A lot of them centered around musical performances, lectures and a lot of holiday activities. We taught them about baseball, football, thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter egg hunts, anything that’s kind of American culture.”

He and his wife also had the opportunity to speak on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day about the cultural differences of America. There are also iPads and other devices that students and local community members can use in the center to learn more about America and to learn to speak English.

The Center was originally named the American Cultural Center, but Stein said many of the Chinese did not like that name because they felt it was propaganda, hence the name-change to American Studies Center. Stein also said they originally had an American flag as the logo for the center, but ended up changing that as well because it was seen as being “too political.”

In addition to teaching and developing the new center while in Changsha, Stein was also conducting research as part of the Apple factory scandal, reported by NPR.

On the subject of communication studies, Stein said there was a huge difference in teaching to Chinese students. He said that Chinese students will literally keep their heads down and write notes for the lecture and will not engage in much discussion during lectures. He said this was something that was difficult to adjust to, as well as the fact that they do not respond to humor very well.

Beyond Monday's presentation, you can hear more about Dr. Stein’s findings and overall experience on sabbatical in China, you can visit his personal blog,, where he maintained detailed account of his time in China. 

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