My Cardinal Experience: Otterbein Offers a ‘Niu’ Experience in Shanghai, China

Posted Aug 04, 2023

By Dan Steinberg, Senior Instructor

It’s “niu” — awesome — that Otterbein offers its students and faculty members countless opportunities to travel and grow. In summer 2022, for instance, I went on a trip with public relations students and met with PR pros while visiting Paris and Milan. I’ve gone with PR students to see the White House Oval Office, West Wing press briefings, and attended the Grammys in Los Angeles — all thanks to Otterbein alumni networks and support.

So when three instructors, a student assistant, and I embarked on a four-week teaching opportunity at Shanghai Publishing and Printing College (SPPC) in China this summer — a program established by Otterbein’s department of art and art history — I knew we were in for another great adventure. Simply put, the opportunity was   (niu, awesome).

From the fun, curious, smart, and creative SPPC students, to everyday living in Shanghai, niu was the operative word. The juxtaposition of Shanghai’s futuristic international core and its traditional Chinese culture is staggering in China’s largest city by population, at 26 million inhabitants. (By contrast the USA’s largest city is New York City at 8 million residents.)

I quickly learned SPPC 20- and 21-year-old students are quite like Otterbein students: they play video games, speak pop culture, listen to music, live for their phones, and constantly think about food. Like these students below.

彭麓 (Peng Luxi, 20, from Sichuan Province): I joined the Otterbein program because I wanted to improve my English. I especially want to visit America one day because I am very curious about it. I didn’t know about PR so the class was fun. Besides strategic communication we learned how to play baseball. I hope I can do a public relations career about fashion in the future.

I saw my role as both instructor and as an Otterbein ambassador. To that end, I brought baseball gloves and a ball to China, Otterbein gear to distribute, and since I love to play ping pong, engaged with students outside of the classroom, sometimes at the request of the SPPC college administrators.

牛天 (Niu Tian, 21, from Anhui Province): Sino-U.S. cooperation is very interesting to me. I want to learn English because English can be in line with international standards. I want to travel to America because America is also a beautiful country.

Living in Shanghai for four weeks meant becoming part of the city-scene. I loved early morning walking or bicycling to watch Shanghai wake up. Everything was a venture: eating, touring, paying in yuan, and moving from one place to another. There are thousands of shared bicycles on every block, so you are ready to roll at an instant’s notice. It’s a well-designed system of transportation and I calculated my cost to rent a shared bike at about 21 cents per hour. The dollar goes a long way in China.

乔鲁杰 (Qiao Lujie, 21, from Shandong Province): Because the teaching quality of SPPC is very good, I feel I can learn more knowledge and understand American culture from Otterbein’s teachers too. They are livelier. What impressed me most was playing table tennis with my teachers, chatting with them, and the collision of pop culture of the two countries. Learning English allows me to communicate with more different people. I want to experience the feeling of living in the United States.

I couldn’t go to China without seeing the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. A four-hour bullet train to Beijing at speeds of 220 mph provided another great experience. Overall, I had an eye-opening time for four weeks and a translator made teaching easier.

吴悦 (Wu Yue, 25, Translator from Jiang Su Province): The Otterbein teacher personalities were very warm-hearted, encouraging me to be confident and happy. My goal is to become a teacher and if I do, I will encourage my students like they encouraged me. I wasn’t in the Otterbein classrooms as a student, but I learned a lot from the teachers: To be environmentally friendly, to be brave and confident to speak English, to be optimistic, to be happy all the time, to find the good in others and to express appreciation, to have a big picture dreamer, and try to do everything I want.

Please see the accompanying photos to get the real picture of my time in Shanghai.