Breaking down the barriers

Break the wall down
Break the wall down

January 19 was a landmark for Bellevue College. That afternoon, a number of faculty members from Bellevue College and University of Washington Bothell gathered and celebrated as BC President Jean Floten and UWB Chancellor Kenyon Chan, signed an agreement that broke down the walls of multicultural difference.

The agreement was a special educational program that would be aimed at Chinese students who show potential and exhibited leadership skills in the field of business.

A select twenty students will be brought to the United States with guaranteed enrollment in UWB but will spend their first two years at BC and then eventually finish their Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science at UWB. The program will also incorporate American students into the program who wish to tackle the more difficult program curriculum.

Judith Paquette, tenured business professor, started off the ceremony by talking about the history of the program and gives the audience the story of how she and her peers started the program “on the back of a napkin.” She gave thanks to all those who helped in the process of making the dream possible.

Next up, Leslie Lum, BC business professor, introduced Professor Sandeep Krishnamurthy, director of the business administration program at UWB. Professor Krishnamurthy explained about the intricacies of the program and the intention behind it. He shared his vision that the program would bring the United States and Chinese cultures closer together; starting the flow of communication at the fundamental educational level.

Professor Krishnamurthy passesd the floor to Margaret Lu, BC alumni and guest speaker for the ceremony. Lu shared her story of going through the BC nursing program, praising the quality of the education she and others received here at BC. She went to UW where she got her BA and her Juris Doctor (JD). In 1996, she built the Shanghai Office of Davis Wright Tremaine in Shanghai, China.

The business was a type of consulting firm in the legal matters of business. Ms. Lu consulted foreign corporations such as Microsoft and General Electric and stated that she had to teach these big companies not only the legal matters of Chinese commerce, but also effective communication between cultures. She stressed how the program will give the BC students a head start in communicating with potential future trade partners.

The next speaker was BC’s president, Jean Floten. Following on the importance of understanding Chinese culture and being able to ease the communication between parties, Floten cited China’s growing economic influence and the possibility of China becoming not only political allies with the US but also trade and military allies. She promised the best undergrad education at BC for the incoming Chinese students.

To capitalize on Floten’s words, Chanwwcellor Kenyon Chan promised an equally high quality of education at UWB. He stated that he is more comfortable working with BC than any other college.

He went a little in-depth about the UWB side of the program, talking about how the institution is also readily eager to help students attain graduate degrees and help them find work and residency in the states if desired.

Moreover, he also gave a bit more input on the American students going into the program, hinting that they would be the informal first line of ambassadors to bridge the two cultures from an early point.

The agreement is signed in front of the audience by the Floten and Chan. The room then bursted into applause and only at that moment were the event attendees really really able to truly appreciate the meaning of the moment.

Everyone from the highest ranking Vice Deans to the leaders of the Business Leadership Club (BLC), to Student Program leaders to faculty advisors, and students from diverse backgrounds were all present to share the vision that began long ago.

Once the clapping died down, Deputy Mayor Conrad Lee said a few things about BC. Far from the choice of words used by Gov. Christine Gregoire, Lee praised BC as one of the best schools in the nation.

The Lieu Quang Buddhist Youth group then ended the ceremony with a bang, performing traditional lion dancing for the crowd. Even though the room was too crowded for the usual fancy tricks, the dance team dazzled the crowd with their display of synchronized choreography all while the Ong Dia ran around.

Bellevue College student volunteers and BLC leaders helped with the clean up afterwards.