Meet the Team: UNL-Zhejiang University Partnership Degree Program

Dan Forman (left) and Chenxiang Zeng (right) are the new team members at the UNL-Zhejiang University Partnership Degree Program in Hangzhou, China.
Dan Forman (left) and Chenxiang Zeng (right) are the new team members at the UNL-Zhejiang University Partnership Degree Program in Hangzhou, China.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Partnership Degree Program (PDP) with Zhejiang University City College (ZUCC) began in 2008. The PDP allows Chinese students to complete two years of study at ZUCC before transferring to UNL to complete their education, and receive a UNL degree. During their time at ZUCC, students take English courses from a UNL lecturer and learn about American life and culture.

To date, the program has seen more than 150 students transfer to UNL with academic success. After graduating from Nebraska, many students go on to pursue graduate degrees at top universities or seek employment back home in China. In fact, more than 60 percent of PDP graduates have earned admission to highly-ranked graduate programs in the U.S., including Case Western University, George Washington University, John Hopkins University, Columbia University, to name a few.

In August 2018, two new employees joined the UNL team, Dan Forman and Chenxiang Zeng. Both are excited to bring a renewed sense of excitement to the Partnership Degree Program.

Dan Forman is the English Language Lecturer and Director of Academic Programs for the UNL-ZUCC program. After receiving his graduate degree from the University of Oregon, Forman moved to Harbin, China as a U.S. Department of State English Language Fellow. Forman worked for the Department of State for three years before moving to Beijing for a year, eventually taking the position with Nebraska at ZUCC. 2019 marks his tenth year of teaching English to non-native speakers.

Chenxiang Zeng is the UNL Coordinator of Administrative Services and Student Affairs at ZUCC. A native of Changsha, China, Zeng attended Hunan University before transferring to UNL. He graduated from UNL in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Upon graduating, he learned about the PDP position and immediately knew it was the job for him. In addition to advising students, managing accounting records, and organizing student activities, Zeng enjoys the opportunity to prepare ZUCC students for studying in the U.S.

What initially led to your interest in China or the U.S.?

DF: To be honest, I was selected by the State Department for a job and they chose the country for me, but I took the job for adventure. China is so different and that’s what makes it interesting. I was curious about how things work here and I wanted to explore. Then, somewhere in the middle of being nervous and learning a language, I fell in love with the history, language, food and people.

CZ: I went to study in the United States mainly because I wanted to go abroad to see the differences between the outside world and China since I was young. I heard that the United States is a multicultural country with many talented people from all over the world. It was a great opportunity to enrich and change myself.

How did going abroad change your life?

DF: China helped me to see daily events as just a part of a longer story. It's easy to get excited or dejected by events that happen every day, but in China they make plans by 5, 10, 100 year chunks. What happens today is not the end of the story. Be patient and work towards longer goals and step further away from the day to day craziness. It has made me more patient with my students and more hopeful for the future. I want to motivate them to go abroad and break out of their shell.

CZ: In America, the biggest change for me was to be myself and not change my opinion because of others. Of course, culture shock also made me have a big change in the way I make friends and stand on a different perspective. You'll get more perspectives sometimes.

How did you come to start your position with the UNL-ZUCC PDP team?

DF: I met with the Associate Vice Chancellor for International Engagement and Global Strategies and learned that the position would be to instruct one group of students for two years. My previous university position used the quarter system, so I had my students only for ten weeks. This was a chance to have a deeper relationship and see students mature through their first two years of university and then go on to study in another country. I jumped at the chance. Now, I see them 8 to 12 hours a day and it’s really fun being a teacher here.

CZ: I found this job opportunity through an email sent by UNL. When I knew that the main responsibility of this job is to introduce UNL to more Chinese students and help them to be successful in the future, I felt like this job was designed for me. As a graduate of UNL, plus the experiences I have had at UNL, I feel like I am duty-bound. I feel honored to recommend my second hometown (Lincoln) to more people, and I am confident that more people will choose UNL.

What’s your favorite part about your position?

DF: I really like the students at ZUCC, they’re really great. When you ask them a question, they stand up and answer you, very respectful. They are happy and curious about foreign methods of teaching. China gives their students hours upon hours of homework followed by constant lectures. They are in school six days a week and usually start at 8:00 a.m. and go until 9:30 p.m. They live with their classmates and travel as one group through their daily schedule. My class gives them a chance to meet students from other departments, using different interactive methods, and they are responding so well. It is a joy to be in class with them.

CZ: What fascinates me most about this job is that I can help more students to study at UNL through the UNL-ZUCC PDP program, so that more students can study abroad to see a new world, have a different world view, feel different cultures and learn more in-depth knowledge. I lived in the U.S. for three years and made a lot of American friends, which helps me to give ZUCC students what America feels like and looks like. When you go to a place, you can give them an idea for when they go there. I love it all.

What’s the best part about Nebraska and UNL?

DF: For me, the best part is the community. I am about 7,000 miles from Lincoln, but I still feel part of the community. I talk online with the staff, see all the exciting things that the faculty and students are doing, and I even voted in governing board election. It’s very nice to be part of a global team of people; the community is not something that’s very common.

CZ: During my studies at UNL, what impressed me most was the profound faculty. I graduated from the College of Business, and every professor of mine came from an amazing field with interesting teaching methods. Not only the faculty, but every UNL staff was very patient and helpful, and the people in Lincoln were very, very, very friendly. They will smile and say, “How are you?” or “Hello” to you, even when you guys are strangers! This made me feel so warm, when I first got there as a foreigner. People will never say hello to you in China, so it warms your heart.

What should ZUCC students look forward to the most about studying at UNL?

DF: There are many things to look forward to: the different style of learning and teaching, the campus, but, I think the number one thing is diversity of ideas. To be able to challenge themselves to understand a different opinion and welcome more than one solution to a problem or one right way to do things. I think exposure to a plurality of ideas will have a lifelong impact on them.

CZ: My favorite experience during my time at UNL was learning the American culture and language. People in Nebraska are actually really friendly, and it’s not the same when you go to California and New York.

In your opinion, what’s the most important benefit the PDP gives ZUCC students?

DF: The opportunity to get used to university-level classes in their native language and then go to UNL. It's a big jump from high school to university and if you add language, a new country, and different food to it, it almost becomes too much. Our PDP students go through a gradual ramping-up of intensity before they go to UNL. We are the only lifeline they have to a foreign culture.

CZ: I believe that the program provides really good opportunities for ZUCC students to study abroad, know more about the world and experience different cultures, as well as to be exposed to a totally different teaching style.

What are you most excited for about the future of the UNL-ZUCC PDP?

DF: Expanding the program. I hope UNL students that are interested in traveling to China choose Hangzhou, and I hope more Chinese students choose to travel abroad to Lincoln. Living in another country changes you and the more people involved, the bigger the change. I'm excited to be a part of the growth of this program.

CZ: I hope that we can expand the scale of PDP program in the future, help more students to study at UNL, let more students know and love UNL, and become proud of being a Husker.

The partnership between Nebraska and ZUCC dates back to 2008. Nebraska is currently in the process of planning a future faculty-led study abroad program to ZUCC in an effort to continue expanding the partnership. For more information regarding the UNL-ZUCC partnership or the PDP, please email the Office of Global Strategies at