Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA students and faculty visit China for study-abroad program

August 20, 2012 - Shirley Luna
Stephen F. Austin State University students recently participated in a study-abroad program in China led by SFA faculty members. Pictured at the Xi'an City Wall are, from left, Dr. Yanli Zhang, assistant professor of forestry; Amy Williams, Dr. Cathy Amonett, Amanda Smith, Holly McCanlies; Monique Nunn; Dr. Cindy Lindley; Dr. Donna Porter; Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of SFA's James I. Perkins College of Education; Michele Reed; Dr. Karen Embry Jenlink, professor of secondary education and educational leadership; Paula Griffin; and Shirley Luna. Not pictured is doctoral student Denise McCormick Myers.

Stephen F. Austin State University students studying in the James I. Perkins College of Education doctoral program in educational leadership recently participated in a study-abroad program in China.

The group visited elementary and intermediate schools associated with Beijing Normal University, Beijing Forestry University, the Xi'an University of Science and Technology, and Shaanxi Normal University. In addition to meeting with university administrators and school teachers, the group toured the British School of Beijing and visited with students at the Meixian County Middle School in Shaanxi Province.

Offered by SFA's Department of Secondary Education and Educational Leadership, the 12-day course was led by SFA faculty members Dr. Karen Embry Jenlink, professor of doctoral studies in educational leadership, and Dr. Yanli Zhang, assistant professor of water and spatial sciences in the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture.

Embry Jenlink received her doctorate in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce. She joined the SFA faculty in 1998 and is the author of three books and more than 30 peer-refereed articles. Embry Jenlink is associate editor of Teacher Education and Practice and is co-principal investigator of Talented Teachers for Training in Texas, a $1.5 million scholarship program funded by the National Science Foundation through SFA's College of Sciences and Mathematics.

Zhang is a native of Xi'an, an area that the group visited during the trip, and he holds a bachelor's degree from Beijing Forestry University and a doctorate in forestry from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He joined the SFA faculty in January of 2009 and is the primary investigator for ongoing research funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the impact of forest change on water resources in East Texas.

The course was developed in response to student interest that resulted from Embry Jenlink' s first trip to China in 2010.

"The relationship between China and the United States is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the 21st century," Embry Jenlink said. "As a result of this course, we were able to develop relationships with faculty and students in schools and universities in China and experience firsthand its culture and diverse educational systems and processes."

The study-abroad participants enrolled in SFA's doctoral program in educational leadership included Nacogdoches residents Paula Griffin, Shirley Luna, Denice McCormick Myers and Monique Nunn; Holly McCanlies of Mansfield, Michelle Reed of Waco and Amanda Smith of Lufkin. Huntington native Amy Williams, a student in the educational leadership master's degree program, also participated in the study, along with recent SFA graduates Dr. Cathy Amonett of O'Donnell, Texas; Dr. Cindy Lindley of Kilgore, and Dr. Donna Porter of Carthage. Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of the college of education, accompanied the group.

The group also visited Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall, Olympic Park in Beijing, and the exhibit of the Terra Cotta Warriors, a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back more than 2,000 years to the Qin Dynasty.

For more information about study-abroad opportunities at SFA, visit www.sfasu.edu/oip.