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Report from China: Change of Plans

A 20 member trade delegation from Springfield is in China this week meeting with Chinese business leaders and visiting the SMS branch campus in Dalian. KSMU's Missy Shelton is with them. She joins me now from Beijing with an update.

MICHELE: Missy, I understand your itinerary has changed.

MISSY: That's right Michelle. When we last spoke we were at the Beijing airport. That was yesterday evening for the folks here and we were planning to fly to Dalian. However, heavy fog has prevented us from going. Even now, we're still in Beijing at the airport. And so there's been a little bit of a change of plans. We're now going to go to Zhengzhou first. And there will be several meetings with local business officials, the chamber of commerce officials in that city. And then the group will split up. The delegation will split and some will stay in Zhengzhou and some will go to Dalian and visit the SMS branch campus.

MICHELE: Now tell me about the programs that SMS has established in China.

MISSY: Well Michelle, there are several programs that SMS has available to folks here in China. The main ones are offered in Dalian at the branch campus. It's part of Lanning Normal University. Almost every class is taught in English, usually by a native speaker. There are two degree programs that are available to the Chinese. There's an associates of arts degree in general studies. And there's also a bachelors of science in general business that is offered through the College of Business Administration at SMS offered to the folks here in China. The SMS branch campus in Dalian has 280 students enrolled. 100 of those are non-Chinese. Many of them are from Hong Kong, Africa and Korea. So that's the main focus of the SMS outreach here in China. However, we've learned during this trip that SMS has established a connection with the China agricultural university and we'll be offering a duel master of science and plant science. The assistant to the president, Jim Baker, from SMS and Wen-Ping Qiu, who teaches in Mountain Grove, interviewed five graduated students here in China and Beijing on Monday. These students have completed their course work. Jim Baker and Wen-Ping Qiu will choose two of those students to come to Mountain Grove, Missouri and do their research for 15 months. Then at the time that they complete that work they'll get a masters from both the China agricultural university and SMSU. So, they're looking for new opportunities all the time to provide educational programs and degrees to the folks here in China.

MICHELE: Are there any possibilities that SMS will offer new educational programs in China in the near future?

MISSY: Actually Michelle that is something that is always on the horizon here. I understand that there's already been an agreement signed and reached with Zhengzhou University. As I mentioned, that's where we're going later this evening. It's called Henan Institute of Finance and Economics. SMS is interested in offering an MBA in cooperation with the Henan Institute. So they're simply waiting for the Chinese government to approve this program and this joint venture. As soon as that happens, the SMS Board of Governors, I understand, has already signed off, then that program they're hoping will begin this fall. That will be available to Chinese students in Zhengzhou.

MICHELE: What does this relationship between SMS and China mean for both the university and for the city of Springfield?

MISSY: I think it's an opportunity for SMS to put into action its public affairs mission. Certainly educating citizens in a global environment is something that SMS officials talk a lot about. Also, having these programs in China has given the opportunity to SMS students and faculty to come here to be a part of this culture, to learn about this culture, to bring ideals of democracy to this area. It's been a real exchange of ideas and culture, not just Springfield folks coming to China, but also Chinese folks coming to Springfield, southwest Missouri and as I mentioned just now with this new plant science degree going to Mountain Grove. So it's been an opportunity for both the Chinese and folks in southwest Missouri.

MICHELE: Thank you Missy,Missy Shelton reporting from Beijing. If you want to follow the delegation's progress you can visit the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce website and read updates from delegation members. The website is