China trip uncovers century-old connectionsBy Melanie Zuercher Bethel College
NORTH NEWTON, Kan. — When Bethel College President Perry White and his wife, Dalene, joined a cross-cultural course to China, they were following protocol. They were also walking in the footsteps of history.
Bethel’s January interterm is traditionally when students go off campus for an extended period of time, often internationally. This year, one of two new options was in China.
Twelve students joined three Bethel alumni, professor of business Allison McFarland and the Whites for two and a half weeks in Beijing and Shanghai, with short stops in the small cities of Daming and Puyang.
The trip was part of Bethel’s new China studies initiative. In addition to the interterm offering, Lijun Zhu taught Chinese I in the fall and is currently teaching Chinese II on campus.
The expertise of alumni Jim and Shirley Goering of North Newton was helpful. The couple and their youngest son lived in China from 1985 to 1989 while Jim worked for the World Bank. Since then, the Goerings have traveled to China two or three times annually, including teaching English for a dozen summers.
“When you think of how fast China is growing in economic size and global political importance, to best prepare students for the world in which they will live and work, it seems almost essential for Bethel to connect with this emerging giant,” Jim Goering said.
And then there is Bethel’s historic tie to China.
In 1917 recent Bethel graduates and newlyweds Ed G. and Hazel Dester Kaufman joined other missionaries already in China for an eight-year term under the General Conference Mennonite Church mission board.
E.G. Kaufman would assume the presidency of Bethel College in 1932, a position he held for 20 years. In the 1930s, Bethel had a president, dean (P.S. Goertz) and business manager (Sam Goering) who were all former China mission workers.
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