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A new UNC program has been developed to allow students to immerse themselves in six months of intensive study in Asian culture, taking them from the streets of Beijing to a dairy farm in the Chinese countryside.
Jones Apparel Group is funding nine fellowships over a three-year period with a $160,000 gift. The Jones Apparel Group Honors Asian Studies Fellowships are valued at $16,480 each and include travel, tuition, housing, board and other expenses related to students’ study.
Undergraduates with a demonstrated interest in Asia and the equivalent of at least three semesters of Chinese language study will be eligible. The first class of Jones Fellows will be announced this fall.
Peter Boneparth ’80, president and chief executive officer of New York-based Jones Apparel Group, backpacked in China during his first trip to the country in 1984. He noted the huge investments now being made in the nation’s infrastructure and how the speed of modernization, the burgeoning middle class and the nation’s changing political system are shaping how China influences business worldwide.
The program will support an educational process matching what many employers seek today, Boneparth added.
“There’s a tremendous need in business and government for employees who are proficient in Mandarin Chinese, in particular,” Boneparth said. “In addition to the intensive language training, we wanted to combine Carolina’s Asian studies curriculum with real-life exposure to the culture and with practical experience in the business world. The Jones Fellows program provides students with opportunities that will open doors for them after graduation.”
The Jones Fellows program represents a major addition to UNC’s efforts to internationalize the undergraduate curriculum, said Jim Leloudis ’77,, associate dean for honors in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Recipients of the award will experience first-hand one of the most dynamic centers of the new global economy,” Leloudis said. “The lessons the Jones Fellows bring home will help to shape the future of communities right here in North Carolina, and they will enlarge the learning of other students with whom the fellows interact.”
The Jones Fellowship features two components: language and culture classes during the spring semester at CET Beijing and a summer internship in Shanghai or Beijing. The internships will be tailored to the students’ interests and will include business, government and professional placements.
The fellowships will be administered in partnership with CET Academic Programs, an American organization based in Washington, D.C. CET Beijing is home to UNC’s honors Asian studies summer program and to the Southern Atlantic States Association for Asian and African Studies’ Chinese language program in which UNC students and faculty regularly participate.
The Jones Apparel Group gift counts toward the Carolina First campaign, UNC’s drive to raise $1.8 billion in private funds through 2007.