The past week has been a blur of time zones and languages – from New York to the annual Silicon Valley Roundtable and then to China with stops in Hong Kong, Shanghai and finally, in Beijing. And once again, with each landing, the global presence of Illinois – both in terms of our alumni and our reputation – was proudly and clearly displayed.
And I’m excited that we took another great step forward in our international reach with the official opening of the Illinois China office on Monday, December 9, in Shanghai.
This new office is another milestone in building strong Illinois relationships abroad. And clearly, China is a place where we have great opportunities to advance the educational, research and economic development missions of the campus. We count an increasing number of Chinese students and alumni as members of the Illinois family. And they are among our strongest and most steadfast advocates anywhere in the world.
By having a physical space in the center of Shanghai, we will be able to really build on our relationships and offer new avenues of exploration for students and faculty alike. It will act as a career center – creating connections among recent graduates for employment opportunities. Our communication to our Illinois family members in China will likely be much better. We hope it will be a little piece of the Illinois experience, right in the middle of a bustling Chinese city.
Besides being able to better connect with students and their families, this is an opportunity to build relationships with leaders in business and academia like never before. In many ways, we see this office as removing some of the obstacles of geography and communication between us. But, the real impact of this office isn’t going to be measured in miles, but in opportunities.
While physical office is strategic from a logistical standpoint, I think what the office represents is more important. For years, thousands of Chinese students have been coming to us – to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They have left their families for the Illinois prairie, many miles from their homes and families. They embraced the educational opportunities here and used the knowledge and skills they gained here to build their lives and to shape their communities a world away from here.
For nearly a century, our Chinese alumni and friends have carried a little bit of Illinois home with them. So, while Monday may mark a physical presence for Illinois in China, really this office is built on the foundation they have laid for us.
It is going to be exciting to see what doors this opens for all of us.
Around the Campus
This Saturday will be the Pop-up Holiday Bazaar hosted by Japan House. From noon to 5 p.m., purchase everything from antique scrolls and strands of origami cranes to tea bowls, framed posters, jewelry, all kinds of origami, fans, vases and more. All proceeds will go toward the Japan House Internship Program. For more information, see the calendar listing here.
Good luck to all of our students as they begin their final exams!