Austin Jackson, ’20, came to Bridgewater State University because it is close to his Sandwich home. BSU took him to the other side of the world.
With study tours to China and Japan under his belt, Austin is embarking on his most ambitious international adventure yet – spending an entire school year at China’s Shanghai Normal University, all courtesy of an international scholarship.
“Bridgewater State University has enabled me to grow as a global citizen,” he said. “Having those experiences to actually go abroad, just learning about people in different cultures, taking different classes – it has enabled me to grow … in terms of learning about the world around me.”
Austin is one of six New England students studying in China this school year with support from the New England Board of Higher Education-Chinese Government Scholarships program. BSU graduate Delma Tavares also received a scholarship for the inaugural 2018-2019 academic year. The awards, funded by the Chinese government, cover tuition, housing and some other living expenses.
The program is a great opportunity for students to learn about China in more depth than they can on campus, said Dr. Wing-kai To, founding assistant provost for global engagement and senior international officer.
For Austin, the scholarship means he can afford to travel while abroad and become fully immersed in Chinese culture.
“It’s going to make my time in China better,” said Austin.
Austin visited the country during a BSU study tour in January, which included nine days in Shanghai. He made friends while there with whom he remained in contact.
“Nine days is nowhere near enough to actually dive into the culture and just everything within Shanghai,” he said. “I really felt being back there would enable me to not just understand Shanghai but all of China as well.”
Austin, who is a BSU communication studies major (concentration in communication and culture) with an Asian studies minor, will study Chinese language at Shanghai Normal.
He will face a language barrier while living in China, but sees that as just another part of the experience – something to savor.
“I think he’s just open-minded and curious about learning about Asia, especially China and Japan,” said Dr. To. The study tours “helped him to develop and be more confident in himself. He realized it would be a wonderful opportunity if he continued to focus on China.”
Austin praised BSU staff members, including Dr. To; Katie Lorge, coordinator of the study abroad program at BSU; and Professor Jabbar Al-Obaidi; for their mentorship and support in helping him pursue a truly global education.
“I’m thankful for everybody and thankful for all the experiences I’ll be having. I won’t be letting anyone down,” Austin said. “No matter what happens, it’s going to be amazing. Absolutely amazing.”