The four students from Dalian Maritime University returned home this week. They were the first students in MMA’s newest exchange program with China (Shanghai Maritime University was the first, sending 19 this year), travelling thousands of miles from Dalian China to experience American maritime academia and walk in the shoes of an Academy cadet for one semester.
Professor and IMBU Department Head, Dr. Bani Ghosh, brokered this international partnership during her sabbatical in the spring of 2012. Academy hosts, all second semester sophomores, act as the “backbone” of the program. Each host must have at least a 2.5 GPA and be in good Regimental standing. They sign up to room with an exchange student for the entire spring semester and show them the ropes – American life, MMA culture and Regimental standards. Hosts accompany the visitors on trips and often take them home on free weekends. Trips included hot spots such as a Celtics game, the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Nashoba Valley for snow tubing, New York City, Plimouth Plantation, Washington D. C. and Six Flags amusement park.
Haoyang Leng or “Nathan”, noted, ”Teachers here are closer to students. MMA is much smaller than DMU so it was easy to make friends and get to know everyone in my major. I did get more homework than at home so I was busy every day!” Dandan Liu or “Christy”, added, “What I like most at MMA are the people. I can’t say enough about how nice they are - always ready to help. The Admiral asked the mess deck to serve us noodles and dumplings when we first arrived. Everyone went out of their way to make us feel welcome.” Peitong Li or “Lily’ as she liked to be called, echoed her classmate, “The thing I like best about America and MMA is the people. They made me feel warm … just as if I were at home.” Haoran Zhao or “Howard” observed, “At DMU we don’t have regimental life for a business major. Morning formation happens once a week; classes are much larger; lights out happens at 23:00; four people share a room. We also don’t have things like a free gym or weight room among other things. MMA was very awesome,” he concluded.
As the old maritime inspired adage affirms, “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met”.