Chinese students overcome travel obstacles to attend 2018 ICPSR Summer Program

Relief. Gratitude. Members of a group of Chinese scholars participating in the 2018 ICPSR Summer Program at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research are reflecting on their experiences after successfully navigating an increasingly challenging visa system allowing them to study in the US.
The South China Morning Post recently reported about the difficulties that high-tech Chinese researchers  including students aiming to study quantitative methods of social research at ICPSR for the summer  are having getting US visas.
“I can attest to the enthusiasm of the students I’ve spoken with about having made it through the process,” said ICPSR Summer Program Director Saundra Schneider. 

The Summer Program staff worked extremely hard to facilitate the participation of Chinese students, Schneider said. “Dieter Burrell worked with U-M's International Center and Shared Services office to navigate the new visa requirements; Stephanie Carpenter helped maintain contact and communications with the supervisors of the Chinese students; and Fillippo Stargell monitored the ever-changing Summer Program registrations and payments. U-M's International Center and Shared Services office were particularly helpful, as well. And, the organizers of the students at Capital University of Economics & Business (CUEB) and Central University of Finance & Economics (CUFE) played a vital role in assisting the students from these two institutions with interviews and visa documentation,” Schneider said. “Without the concerted efforts of all of these individuals, students from CUEB and CUFE would not have been able to take part in the 2018 Summer Program. My sincere thanks to everyone who helped in this effort!”
Schneider said ICPSR has learned a great deal from this year's experience. Instead of recommending B1/B2 visas as it has in the past, ICPSR will advise students to prepare the necessary materials for J1 visas. J1 visas entail more documentation and stipulations, and they require a longer lead time to prepare and process. However, the US State Department has identified J1 visas as the appropriate visas for international students and visitors participating in training programs like the ICPSR Summer Program. 
“It has been extremely rewarding to see how excited and appreciative the CUEB and CUFE students are to be here this summer. This has made all of our collective efforts worthwhile.”
ICPSR Summer Program Director Saundra Schneider
ICPSR asked some of the students to talk about their experiences, and why it was important for them to travel to attend the program. Many said they welcomed a chance to learn new skills and to experience American life. Below are some reflections from their time in the 2018 ICPSR Summer Program. –Stephanie Carpenter and Dory Knight-Ingram
“I came to ICPSR because I wanted to learn some practical skills. My overall impressions? Happy!!! We really enjoyed the classes. For the first season, we attended Linear Regression, taught by Tim McDaniel. Tim is a really nice person and a skillful teacher. He holds all of our attention and we were addicted to his classes, in spite of our weak English listening. After a month’s learning, we are now totally adapted to the life here in America and are living a happy life here. I wish time could pass by slower! And also, people living in the co-op where we are recently living are really nice, which makes us love Ann Arbor ever more.”
–Weijia Wang, CUEB
“I came to the ICPSR Summer Program to improve myself. The teachers are very nice, and there is a good variety of activities.”
–Mao Ruo Chong, CUEB
“I am excited to be at ICPSR this summer, and enjoying a chance to experience being at a university in the USA. I am also enjoying the beautiful scenery here.”
–Xinyu Qian, CUEB
“There is a lot to learn from classes and lectures, and also a lot to experience about the American culture. The staff here are very nice.”
–Lifting Yao, CUEB
"I came to ICPSR to gain more knowledge and feel the atmosphere of the American lifestyle. The learning is active and the teachers are always humorous. I am also happy to practice speaking English.”
–Ge Gao, CUEB
“I wanted to learn more about statistics and experience American life. The social events at ICPSR are colorful and I can gain more knowledge from the classes.”
–Mengyu Liu, CUEB
"I came to the ICPSR Summer Program to expand my insight and experience American culture. It has been very interesting to make friends and experience the different lifestyle.”
–Meijuan Yu, CUEB

“I wanted to learn more about quantitative methods and American culture. I think everything is awesome. I really enjoy the life here, and the classes are really valuable.”
–Wu Yifan, CUEB 
“I wanted to experience student life at the University of Michigan.  The classes, instructors, lectures and social events are great, and thanks for the picnic and bonus donuts and coffee!”
–Wenzhu Qi, CUEB
“I came to ICPSR to increase my statistical knowledge and  learn about different cultures. It’s been a beautiful experience. The teachers here are very interesting and responsible. It's a good program.”
–Yewei Gan, CUEB
“I came to broaden my knowledge and experience U-M as well as the US. I think the teachers are so kind and professional. In addition, TAs are also so patient and have given us so much help when facing difficulties in doing the homework. When it comes to the content of the class, Regression Analysis Two: Linear Models, though we have learned most of it in our home institution, we have found new angles to understand and discover. There are many relaxing and extracurricular activities, which are really interesting and meaningful. In short, the experience of participating in the ICPSR summer program is one of the most precious and memorable experiences and what I take with me is not only knowledge, but other experiences that are useful and unique.  The CUFE group has met great difficulty in getting our visas, but we finally made it. And we felt so lucky and grateful that we could reach the U-M, study in the campus, live here and explore here. The weather is so comfortable and the view – so many green plants and lovely small animals, is so pleasing.
–Jiayao Wang, CUFE

 "I wanted to attend to supplement my statistics knowledge (after all, statistical knowledge is very useful). Overall impressions: I love this program! All of my instructors and TAs are very nice, and the classes are very profound, which is meaningful for our future study. I feel that the atmosphere of University of Michigan is very good, friendly, joyful. What's more, the academic atmosphere in here is very strong, which represents a world-wide famous school."
–Xiaoye Tian, CUFE 
"My favorite movie, Dead Poets Society, used to have this line: “Seize the day, seize the opportunity.” I think that's the best way to describe this summer. When I came here, it just like opening a door for the new world to me. I accepted the key and saw it as a gift. ICPSR provides rich and colorful social and cultural activities, and sets up a perfect social network platform for us. Here, we can go deep into the cultural community and interact with students and professors from different languages and cultures. Here, we can visit historical sites and fully appreciate the different cultures. Here, we can play sports and enjoy the pleasure and friendship brought by sports. What’s more, on July 31st, we were so lucky that we climbed up to the top of Burton Memorial Tower and appreciated the play of the bells. We were shocked by the player and chatted with her. Through the conversation, we learned that she is a PhD in the university and plays it for her interests. It’s really a rare experience! Seize the day, seize the opportunity. It’s a special summer in my memory."
–Weng Hongjing, CUEB


The following essay was co-written by Meijuan Yu, Gan Zhang, and Huayue Jiang,  CUEB

Days in Ann Arbor
When I was watching the American drama "Friends," I said, I must come to the United States once. Food and beauty all attract me. The key is that I can also be friends with a group of interesting people. When I learned about ICPSR, I did not hesitate to participate. Even for special reasons, the visa was rejected twice. But once you love something and incorporate it into your plan, you will do your best to get it done.
Class: Difficult but interesting
We have the class of Game Theory, Regression Analysis, R Statistical Computing Environment, and so on. The classes are very interesting. All of the professors are very professional and nice. They get along well with us. We enjoyed our time of having class and tried our best to study hard. We learned the quantitative methods of social research and a lot of other things. 
Life: New and colorful
Only when you come to the American way of life, can you find the difference from China. When you go to the street in the morning, you will see the closed “Lazy” shop which opened in the noon and closed at midnight; When you go to the house, you will see the big kitchen and large electrical furniture; When you cross the road without a red light, the driver will stop and wait for you to go first anytime; When you attend the class, you can say your problems anytime. Open your eyes, enjoy the life!

The following essay was co-written by Ruochong Mao, Han Zhang, and Xinyu Dong, CUEB

To join ICPSR is a great treasure in our lifetime. A life without ICPSR is incomplete. Professors here are knowledgeable. Study is no longer a tough and boring thing in ICPSR. Professors made us feel that study is a kind of pleasure. They applied practical examples to help us understand a theory better. Also, they perfectly used “pithy formula law” to help us memorize formulas firmly. I can still remember Prof. Pollin’s classic quotation “X Transport X Inverse X Transport Y.” It always wandering in my mind when I close my eyes. Life here is really fulfilling. There were various kind of activities waiting for us to go. From the welcome party, to Blalock Lectures and picnics, we found great pleasure. 

The picnic day
Our life in Ann Arbor is very colorful. Ann Arbor is a quiet, peaceful city. We enjoy the environment of Ann Arbor. The study and research atmosphere is everywhere. The culture of Ann Arbor is good for us to communicate with foreigners and professors. We have a lot of opportunities to exchange thoughts, culture and almost everything with each other. Truth House, a co-op where we lived, is really united. Everyone completed 4-hour chores every week. Before we lived here, we hadn’t lived like this. Maybe there is culture shock in the house, but we can understand each other and know more about another kind of culture. We felt happy and satisfied even though we were exhausted since we deeply know that Truth House is our family. We experienced intercultural communication here and made dumplings together, which shortened the distance between heart and heart. We got to know each other because of ICPSR. ICPSR knows no boundary between countries! 

Aug 16, 2018

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