Baruch College professors Christine Markussen and her husband, James Walsh, taught at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, or SWUFE, this past Fall semester.
SWUFE, which is located in Chengdu, China, has two programs in conjunction with Baruch: students can either study at SWUFE for three years and then at Baruch for one year, or at both universities for two years each.
The students whom professors Markussen and Walsh taught during their time in Chengdu will be studying at Baruch for one year beginning this May. As a result of this program, the students will receive degrees from both SWUFE and Baruch.
The program that Markussen and Walsh participated in began in fall 2015, and every semester since, Baruch has sent two professors to SWUFE to teach a class to the students in the program.
Both Markussen and Walsh had previously worked overseas, and when they heard that Baruch was looking for a law and marketing professor to go to Chengdu, they volunteered.
Throughout their experience, both developed a bond with their students. During each week of the semester, the professors would conduct a raffle with their students; the two winners would then go out to dinner with both professors.
To this day, Markussen and Walsh are still in touch with many of their students via email.
The intention of sending U.S. professors to teach at SWUFE, Markussen thinks, is not only to teach the students the required courses they need to receive their Baruch degrees but also to allow for an easier transition to the students’ soon-to-follow year in New York.
Many of the students asked Markussen and Walsh all sorts of questions about life in the United States. They voiced their concerns about a multitude of issues, such as the expense of living in New York, finding an apartment and food they may find tasty.
“The students were so hard-working, they were amazing … the degree of devotion to their studies was remarkable,” said Markussen. She and her husband saw a big difference between the students in Chengdu and the students they have taught in the U.S. For example, she cited how she has seen some students in the U.S. run out the minute a lecture has ended. Meanwhile, Markussen said, Chinese students would stay after class to discuss what they had learned or to speak about upcoming projects with other classmates.
Markussen taught U.S. law at SWUFE, as students there are required to study law in order to get a degree from Baruch. Sometimes the Chinese students would take on extra work and research the differences between U.S. and Chinese law to discuss with Markussen out of interest.
Though Markussen and Walsh did not know Mandarin upon their arrival, Markussen said that she and her husband learned a bit of the language during their time. She explained there was not much of a language barrier between her and her students, as they spoke English fluently.
The two professors had a relatively rigorous workload, according to Markussen, and thus they did not have a lot of time to sightsee. Their students recommended places for them to visit, so at the end of the semester they stopped at 13 different countries on their way back to the U.S.
Markussen and Walsh enjoyed their time in Chengdu and, when asked, Markussen said that they would definitely go again if they were given the opportunity.
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