Cultural connections fuel ESL economics research event

- April 20, 2018

(L to R): Students Guoyu Wang (PeiPei), Li Yusheng (Danny), Kan Yu Zhang (Yuki) were part of the College of Continuing Education’s annual economics conference. (Daniel Abriel photo)
(L to R): Students Guoyu Wang (PeiPei), Li Yusheng (Danny), Kan Yu Zhang (Yuki) were part of the College of Continuing Education’s annual economics conference. (Daniel Abriel photo)

Every April, the College of Continuing Education’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program offers students in its Academic Writing and Research Skills course the chance to showcase their research and language skills as part of an economics conference.

This year’s event, organized by the Department of Economics and the ESL Programs at the College of Continuing Education, brought third-year student from Dal’s joint 2+2 programs with Shandong University of Finance and Economics and Renmin University in China together to share their perspectives on the role of culture as a driving force in economic development globally.

Student Li Yusheng (Danny) kicked off the presentations during the opening ceremonies at the conference earlier this month with a talk on the influence of tourism on economic development in Hainan, China. The presentation touched on how factors such as economic growth, cultural exchange, and public policy impact tourism in such places.

“Culture conflicts are always accompanied with culture fusion,” he said during the talk entitled Small Economies Dependence on International Tourism: Selling Culture. “In China, there is a traditional aphorism that [we should be] ‘seeking common ground while keeping differences.’ The solution to solve these culture conflicts is to create a new culture, including the local culture and foreign culture.”

Other presentations covered topics ranging from Canada-China relations and the effects of cultural architecture on economies to the celebration of traditional Chinese festivals and their connection with China's economic strategy of attracting tourists for economic development.

A lasting impression

David Packer, director of ESL programs in the College of Continuing Education (CCE), delivered the opening remarks and introduced the conference’s guest speakers, which included Carolyn Watters (provost and vice-president, academic), Andrew Cochrane (dean of CCE), and Dal faculty members Iscan Talan (Department of Economics) and Anthony Rusinak (ENSL course instructor), and Shazia Awan (coordinator of ENSL courses).

Packer discussed the benefits of the program and its impact on the students as future academics. 

“Wherever they end up, they will be a testament to the benefits of an international education, both for themselves and for the Dalhousie community that benefits from having them as an integral part of the community,” said Packer. 

Dr. Talan's speech touched on how impressed he was with the quality of the work from this year’s students.

Dr. Watters noted how fast the program developed the students’ English and academic-writing skills and saluted the combination of both English and economics classes. 

“It’s always fun to see how far you’ve come in less than a year, it’s tremendous. I’m a big believer of being able to work in economics while you’re learning culture and language, and I think it’s really the only thing that makes sense,” she said.


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