President Mistick Visits China with FriendlyPA Initiative

Posted: November 20, 2014

Wilson College President Barbara K. Mistick recently traveled to China with a delegation from FriendlyPA, an economic development initiative aimed at building partnerships and promoting exchange activities between Pennsylvania and Chinese educational institutions.

During the two-week trip, which included visits to the cities of Chengdu and Beijing, a FriendlyPA team representing 18 private and public Pennsylvania colleges and five high schools attended college fairs and met with Chinese universities. Wilson was one of four institutions whose representatives made the trip to China in late October with the FriendlyPA team. The others were Robert Morris University, West Chester University and Lycoming College.

“The FriendlyPA initiative aims to help brand Pennsylvania as a destination for quality education in the U.S.,” Mistick said. “The trip was a great success, from my perspective, and it was wonderful to be able to represent Wilson and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – and all of the educational resources Pennsylvania has to offer the people of China.”

A program of Pittsburgh-based, nonprofit economic development organization called the Idea Foundry, FriendlyPA has a number of economic development partners, including the Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and VisitPittsburgh.

“Our mission is to connect families and students with the educational opportunities that best match their needs, personalities, and educational and career goals,” according to the FriendlyPA website. “FriendlyPA also strives to build partnerships between Chinese and Pennsylvania schools to facilitate bilateral education exchange activities.”

The FriendlyPA delegation was well-received at events such as the China Education Expo—China’s largest annual educational event—where the group manned an information booth and spoke to students interested in coming to the U.S. and their parents.

“Because of our consortium approach, Chinese students and parents could speak with representatives from a variety of institutions,” said Mistick. “That seemed to make our booth more appealing than the booths for single institutions.” In addition, FriendlyPA’s Chinese-speaking representatives helped smooth communication with parents and students, which had a significant impact, according to Mistick.

In Beijing, the FriendlyPA team talked with more than 300 parents and students over two days, while in Chengdu, more than 80 students and parents visited with the FriendlyPA delegation, according to FriendlyPA Manager of Greater China Initiatives Lingling Zhu.

While in China, Mistick and other FriendlyPA team members visited the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu to discuss possible exchange programs with schools in Pennsylvania.

In the next few months, the FriendlyPA China team will continue conversations with Chinese students and parents, including helping them apply to member schools like Wilson. The group, which plans to establish a permanent office in Beijing, will also continue discussions with Chinese universities about formingpartnerships with member institutions.

According to a recent report from the Institute of International Education, Pennsylvania ranks sixth in the United States for the number of international students hosted by colleges and universities. A total of 41,446 international students studied in Pennsylvania in 2013-14, an 11.2 percent increase from the previous year, the report states.

More information about FriendlyPA can be found at its website, www.friendlypa.com.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark Blackmon, Director of Communications
Phone: 717-262-2607
Email: mark.blackmon@wilson.edu

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Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college offering bachelor’s degrees in 29 majors and master’s degrees in education, the humanities, accountancy and nursing. Wilson is committed to providing an affordable education that offers value to its students beyond graduation.

Located in Chambersburg, Pa., the college has a fall 2014 enrollment of 759, which includes students from 17 states and 14 countries. Visit www.wilson.edu for more information.