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University of Iowa News Release


July 16, 2008

Chinese students visit UI, sample university life

A group of top academic high school students from China is experiencing Iowa -- everything from anthropology and engineering classes to ice cream socials and baseball games, thanks to a first-of-its-kind program at the University of Iowa.

The China-BESTS (Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search) Program brought 38 Chinese students on a 7,087-mile trip across the globe for a three-week summer course and lots of cultural immersion. The program offers students a taste of what it is like to be a U.S. university student while helping establish Chinese gifted education programs. Eventually, it will further diversity on the UI campus.

A cooperative agreement between the UI College of Education's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development and Hangzhou Harvest Consulting Company Ltd., a Chinese consulting company, made the program possible. The Chinese high school students, who are completing their junior year in the city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, were selected to attend the summer course by an academic talent search using ACT tests.

"China-BESTS gives top students from China an opportunity to understand U.S. university life and particularly life at the University of Iowa," said Nicholas Colangelo, director of the Belin-Blank Center. "The students are having an experience quite unique compared to their classmates at home. Also, these students are being interviewed for possible admission to the University of Iowa. They are really fine young people and students, and it is a pleasure to have them here."

The students are currently taking six classes -- ranging from law and math courses to engineering and anthropology -- taught by UI faculty and staff while gaining exposure to different UI departments and areas of expertise. They are also taking preparatory sessions for the ACT and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and attending U.S. culture sessions organized by the UI Office of International Students and Scholars. Students will also participate in evening recreation and social activities including visiting a water park, learning to salsa dance and attending a Cedar Rapids Kernals' game, where one of the students will throw out the opening pitch.

At the end of three weeks, the Belin-Blank Center and the UI Office of Admissions will select approximately 25 students for early admission to the University of Iowa as undergraduates after the students complete their senior year in China. The 25 students accepted for UI will begin their undergraduate studies in the fall of 2009 and will be part of the Belin-Blank Center transition program for gifted students. They will also live in Daum Honors Residence Hall and be part of the University Honors Program.

"UI has been interested in recruiting more international students, especially at the undergraduate level," said Jan Warren, Belin-Blank Center administrator for student programs.

"All international students enrich the life at the university," Warren said. "These are very academically capable students who will have a longer-term relationship with the university because they are coming as high school students."

Warren said that although this is the first year starting the program, Belin Blank Center staff members are learning a lot from the students and how to expand and improve future programs.

"This program is really unique," she said. "It's not just an enrichment opportunity, but targeted at helping international students make the transition to the university. In the next five years, approximately 100 new UI students will be from China."

For more information on the China BESTS Scholar Program or a complete schedule of events, contact Jan Warren at 319-330-9374.

For more information on the Belin-Blank Center, visit

EDITOR'S NOTE: This program offers many good video footage and photo opportunities including a student who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Kernels game at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 20, at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids. Contact Jan Warren at 319-330-9374 to arrange an interview or for a complete schedule.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jan Warren, Belin-Blank Center, 319-330-9374,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Aly Dolan