Highline considering study abroad program

By David Slettevold - Staff Reporter

Highline College may start a study abroad program for students in certain classes come Fall Quarter 2018.

Kevin Stanley, an economics professor at Highline, organized a group of students and faculty members to visit Shanghai from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10.

Stanley said that Highline wasn't the only college in this program.

"We ended up with four students from Highline on this program, and four from Tacoma Community College," he said.

Stanley said that the students and faculty on the trip visited Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a university that has a history of partnering with Highline.

"We've been doing stuff with this university, like faculty exchanges, going back 20 years," he said.

Stanley said that a study abroad program would be new.

"This is a pilot program," he said. "But this is also a program for next year."

However, Stanley said the trip's short length posed problems compared to a typical one at a four-year university.

"Traditional study abroad…you go someplace for a year, or a semester," he said. "Everybody I've ever talked to that's done that has said it's a highly beneficial experience."

"The problem and criticism with short-term programs is that you're a tourist for 10 days or so, Stanley said.

He said that this removes a lot of the experience from the trip, but Shanghai Jiao Tong University helped by giving them "student cultural guides" who guided them through the city and helped them translate from Mandarin to English.

Stanley, being an economics professor, wanted to visit a lot of budding technology centers in Shanghai as well as small markets.

"Shanghai has gone from an emerging power to a rich city in an incredibly short amount of time," he said. "There was nothing there 20 years ago."

One place they visited was a cashless grocery store run by Alibaba, a Chinese company similar to Amazon.

Customers can only pay using the app that Alibaba has made for their own store, called Alipay.

Chonna Son, a Highline student who went on the trip, said "They have a barcode on each item, and you need to use the barcode to buy things," she said.

Stanley said that the workers there rushed to fill out online grocery orders as well, which Alibaba claims will arrive to you in 30 minutes or less.

Another student, Angelica Villaruel, commented on another huge development in Shanghai.

"They have a huge bike-share program in the city," she said. "There's an app to unlock the bikes, and there are a ton of people on bikes."

Stanley said that there are hundreds of thousands of bikes in the city, and they are very cheap to ride and rent.

The transit system in Shanghai is also impressive, Villruel said.

"I know there's a transit in New York, but this was crazy," she said.

From 1993 to 2013, the Shanghai Metro gained 326 stations and serves all of urban Shanghai.

The experience in Shanghai, though, wasn't all good. One Highline student was declined service in a restaurant due to their ethnicity.

"We've got a lot to do [in America]," Stanley said, "but sometimes seeing racism in other countries helps us see how far we've come."

Overall, however, all students and faculty said that they had a great time and would love to do it again.

The cost of the trip is around $2,100, but financial aid and college scholarships can cover a lot of it, Stanley said.

If you have any questions or are interested in going, email Kevin Stanley at kstanley@highline.edu.

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