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Documentary explores students’ Sino-US exchange

A feature-length documentary film showing the cultural experiences of four American and four Chinese students as they tour Hong Kong and Sichuan province in China has been created by UK-based organisation Crossing Borders Education (CBE) and co-produced with Michigan State University (MSU) in collaboration to promote interest in cross-cultural exchange.

Extract from the trailer, which is available to view online

"We're hoping it will help people contextualise more and welcome Chinese students to better integrate into campuses"

The Dialogue is a bold and exciting cinematic attempt to document challenges faced by Americans in Hong Kong and China, which occupies such a entrenched space now in conversations about international education.

The film is being made available for educators to hold public screenings during International Education Week in November and is accompanied with a tool kit to encourage discussions around intercultural communication.

Brett Berquist, Executive Director of MSU’s Office of Study Abroad, said the project was inspired by the China 100,000 Strong initiative introduced by the Obama administration.

“For every American student studying in China right now, 10 Chinese are studying in the US. So we really wanted to open up Chinese culture more to American students,” he told The PIE News.

Screen shot 2013-10-17 at 19.05.58“But we wanted to go in the other direction as well, to help Chinese students understand more about American culture perhaps before they come, while they’re here and even for their families back home to understand what they’re going through.”

The 60-minute documentary was directed by CBE managing director Arnd Wächter and filmed during the end of December 2011 and the beginning of 2012. It shows the first-hand experience of Sino-US relations as the students are confronted with the challenges of cross-cultural communication.

“It really dives into the role that culture plays and how we understand each other,” said Berquist. “We’re hoping that will help people contextualise more and welcome Chinese students to better integrate into campuses.”

Any institution can use the film as a tool to promote the skills and experiences gained by studying in a foreign country. Berquist says MSU has a goal that 500 universities, community colleges, and high schools will organise facilitated screenings of the film during International Education Week held this November.

Although focusing mostly on the Chinese-American relationship, Berquist adds that the film’s themes could also resonate with other education providers in multicultural societies outside of the US.

The film will be officially released to film festivals around the world in 2014. A trailer is available to view here.

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