- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - After spending several weeks in classes about Chinese language and culture, Bruce Register and Ruth Hancock agree the cultural differences between China and the United States are significant.

The free six-week course presented by Troy University at the Dothan Campus was designed to help area businesses and organizations looking to get involved in the world’s second-largest economy.

Dothan will be hosting the U.S.-China Manufacturing Symposium March 26-28. Around 500 Chinese businessmen and 60 speakers are expected to attend along with a host of international media.

Register, a retiree who was born and raised here, took the course because he knew Dothan was having a lot of contact with Chinese industries. He saw it as an opportunity to welcome Chinese visitors and create good relations.

Hancock, a former English teacher and current school nurse in Ozark who went to China last spring to teach English at a junior college, said she was impressed by the personal insights the instructors shared on Chinese history and customs.

The course being presented by the Confucius Institute at Troy University concluded Thursday. The instructors include Chinese language professor Zongping Peng, Confucius Institute Director Iris Hong Xu and lecturer Rui Flobert Feng.

Lee Vardaman Jr., associate provost for academic support at Troy University, said the classes originated when Dothan Campus Vice Chancellor Dr. Don Jeffrey got into a discussion with community and business leaders and the mayor’s office about things that could help make Chinese visitors feel wanted and comfortable.

Breaking down cultural and communication barriers was one idea.

“It makes folks feel like you’re making the extra effort if you at least learn a little bit of their language,” Vardaman said.

The Dothan Campus will offer Chinese language and business courses in coming weeks. The fee for each course is $99.

Elementary Chinese I will focus on basic Chinese vocabulary and simple daily life conversations. Business Chinese I will concentrate on basic business Chinese vocabulary, word order, grammar and simple business conversations.

Register hopes the relationship with China going forward will be positive. Hancock agrees.

“I think that Troy is making a bridge to the Chinese and I think we here in Dothan, if we’re going to do business with the Chinese, need to make it easier for their students to enroll here and come here,” she said.

Hancock sees the chance to build a relationship with the Chinese as a wonderful opportunity.

“I think our relationship with China is our future, whatever direction it goes,” she said.

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Information from: The Dothan Eagle, http://www.dothaneagle.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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