Imagery of Regent people and campus

Semester in China Inspires Professor

By Brett Wilson | April 29, 2014

Dr. Osula at the China Youth University for Political Science.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Bramwell Osula.

At the start of the fall 2013 semester, Dr. Bramwell Osula, associate professor for Regent University's School of Business & Leadership (SBL) was hoping for a traditional semester abroad—falling into the classic sights and sounds of a different culture and teaching a few classes.

But, the more involved he became at the China Youth University for Political Science (CYUPS) in Beijing, it was clear he would also gain a refreshed outlook on teaching.

"As I returned home from China, I realized how transformational the opportunity and the impact of the trip really was," said Osula.

What began as a task of guiding close to 80 graduate students through courses on qualitative research methods and the sociology of youth, soon evolved into his teaching English to upward of 1,000 undergraduate students in 13 classes.

"I was surrounded 24/7 by students, and it was pretty culturally daunting," said Osula.

These challenges, along with being one of the only Americans living on campus, fully submerged Osula into the Chinese way of life—a reality that presented fresh challenges to the seasoned professor.

"My Chinese is abysmal, so it was difficult at first. I can understand how in the first week or two a few individuals teaching abroad would turn tail and give up," said Osula. "But after about a month, it became very liberating in many ways."

Osula broke through his fear of "sticking out like a sore thumb," feeling more at ease once he began fully engaging with his students who were very willing to learn, especially with regard to the substantive disciplines.

"Every class was a kind of vibrant, cultural exchange; there was passion and excitement to be found, especially with the undergraduate students," said Osula. "They asked me pointed questions about America's culture, history and university structure, and I asked them about China."

When Osula finally returned home from his semester abroad, he noticed that he had gained a "heightened interest in the students." He uses this new momentum to continue "living out the witness" he teaches in his classes online and on campus for Regent.

"It's that student engagement that was very positive and feeds into what we do here at Regent, inside and outside of the classroom," said Osula.

Learn more about the School of Business & Leadership.


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