South Dakota and Kunming... again
Just ran into this article on South Dakota State University president Peggy Miller, who has just retired. I don’t have much of a personal connection to SDSU, although I spend a couple weekends there back in high school competing in their debate tournament. On the other hand, I did run into a group of SDSU reps, including Mrs. Miller’s husband, on the campus of Yunnan Normal University in 2004. I heard some rumors floating around that there were people from South Dakota on the campus, so I headed out and managed to find them finishing up a dorm tour. I exchanged some cards and contact info with the reps, but never heard back from them.
One way she has done that is by expanding SDSU’s international studies programs. Students now are able to attend universities across the globe, paying only what they would for tuition at SDSU. Last school year, almost 175 South Dakota State students studied abroad. In September 2004, she and her husband, Bob, led a contingent of SDSU staff and students to Kunming, China to visit Yunnan Normal University and discuss an ongoing exchange with that school. She not only wanted students to check out the study opportunities there, but the nightlife and the social opportunities to ensure it was a place young Americans would want to go. Matt Anderson, a 21-year-old biology and pre-med major from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, was on that trip. A product of the prairie who had never strayed much beyond the Midwest, Anderson said the culture shock was enormous - but the experience was priceless. “It was incredibly valuable to meet students over there and get their perspective on America,” Anderson, a senior, says.
I always hoped that there would be progress on the study abroad program they were hoping to establish, but haven’t heard anything about it in the last 16 months in Kunming. Most kids from South Dakota, even the brightest and most successful ones, don’t consider out of state options for college, let alone international study abroad.
A cursory search seems to indicate that SDSU has made a few exploratory trips to Kunming but has yet to establish a formal exchange program of any kind. They’ve also published a serious mis-estimate of Kunming’s population (they say 1 million, accurate figures over 4 million).