Psychology trip to China "a life-changing experience"

YSU students visiting Chengdu University and painting pandas using the traditional Chinese calligraphy method with students from Sichuan Normal University.

“It was a life-changing cross-cultural experience.”

That is the way Ying (Joy) Tang, assistant professor of Psychology, describes the department’s first ever study abroad trip, which she co-led with Jeffrey Coldren, professor and chair of Psychology.

The duo took 10 YSU students to Chengdu, Sichuan Province in China earlier this year.

For 10 days, students worked alongside their peers at Sichuan Normal University to compare developmental and educational practices in China and the United States.

“Learning about their cultural history, experiencing their life as university students in China, and listening to their stories about childhood and current events opened my eyes to see how similar we really are,” YSU student Marta Hergenrother said. “Relating to people on the other side of the world, and truly becoming friends with them is an incredible gift I will carry with me forever.”

Other students participating in the experience included Christa Bupp, Thomas Ford, Alexis Morales, Nicholas Necessary, Samantha Neral, Devon Rambo, Kevin Sowers, Yanitza Torres and Shawn Williams.

During the day, students took classes and visited various educational and cultural sites, and in the evening, they had free time to explore the city.

Tang and Coldren are planning to expand the next study abroad experience, slated for next spring, to include a research component. Students will meet once a week throughout the semester and travel to China for two weeks in May 2020 to learn about family- and children-related psychological issues in China and to collect data for a cross-cultural research project.

“The experience will appeal to students interested in children and family, human ecology, education and psychology,” Tang said.

The partnership with Sichuan Normal developed out of an existing research collaboration between Tang and Lihui Huang, a faculty colleague in China.

Students and faculty are grateful for the support they received from the dean and the International Programs Office. Coldren credits the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences for its commitment to offering students affordable access to high impact experiences like study abroad.