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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Traveling the Silk Road to Find Truth

    Scandal. Communism. Repression. Censorship. Overcrowding. These are the typical impressions that Americans have of China. Beautiful. Historical. Changing. Diverse. These are the words that Stony Brook University professor, Charles Haddad, wants journalism students to associate with China after a reporting trip there this summer.

    Haddad, along with Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious, is offering journalism students an amazing opportunity. He will take 20 to 25 students from around the country along the fabled Silk Road of China in a reporting caravan. Haddad referred to it as a “living adventure” in a classroom without walls. The Silk Road, “the super highway of its day,” as Haddad described it, represents both the old China and the new China.

    According to a TravelChinaGuide.com, the Silk Road extends over 5,000 miles and was a series of trade routes connecting the East to the West. The route enabled goods to be transported from China and India around the Mediterranean and to Europe. The power and prosperity of trading cities along the road declined along with the use of the route during the Middle Ages.

    Today, the Silk Road represents China’s revival. As the U.S. economy has weakened, nearly to the point of collapse, China’s economy has strengthened.

    “China is a country that will loom large in our lives,” Haddad said. He designed this summer’s trip to change the students’ view of the country, people, and its significance in the world.

    Like other study abroad programs at Stony Brook, there is a lengthy application with essays and letters of recommendations. The price is the same as the others — between $4,000 and $5,000. However, that is where the similarities end.

    Haddad stressed that this adventure will be unlike any other study abroad program offered at Stony Brook. Instead, it will immerse its students in the Chinese culture to teach them what the country is really like — the fastest industrializing country in the history of the world.

    As a result, criteria for acceptance into the program are different from that of other study abroad programs. Students must be journalism majors or minors and have completed an introductory journalism class.

    Students must be mature, hardworking, open to learning and ambitious, Haddad said. They must produce meaningful work.

    Students can earn six credits during the six-week journey, plus three additional credits for an independent study that requires producing a news story based on reporting from China. Students will travel the road looking for stories that capture modern China, speaking with Chinese leaders and advocates, and working closely with Chinese graduate students who will be their guides and interpreters.

    The application deadline is Feb. 15, 2008. While Professor Haddad is unsure of the turnout, it is expected to be competitive, since the program is open to students all over the country. Stony Brook journalism majors and minors will have preference, Haddad said.

    Professor Haddad said his goal, besides educating students on the history and culture of China, is to remove stereotypical views of the country. He wants students to come back saying, “‘Wow, I had no idea how rich and complex this place is,'” he said.

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