U reaches out to Asia

The growing importance of China and India in world affairs has U administrators looking to Asia.

The U is currently working to build connections with universities, private donors and government organizations throughout the continent.

Administrators said it’s important for the U to establish strong relationships with these emerging global economic and political powers before it’s too late.

“There will just not be the same opportunities two years from now,” said Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics. “More and more? institutions are setting their sights on China and India.”

By developing relationships in Asia, the U hopes to secure sizeable grants from Asian donors, develop a faculty exchange program and provide student internships in the area.

During a recent trip to Hong Kong, Jowers and administrators from the College of Humanities met with Solina Chau, director of the Li Ka Shing foundation. The foundation awarded the U a $200,000 grant in August to fund international internships.

Administrators are hopeful that Shing, Asia’s 10th-wealthiest man, and other donors will be a major source of funding for the U’s outreach efforts.

In addition to meeting with Shing’s foundation members, the group traveled to India and South Korea. Jowers said the trip has already yielded a number of promising internships and potential faculty positions.

The Hinckley Institute is hoping to send a group of five students to work as interns in New Delhi and Beijing Spring Semester.

Senior Jake Reid, one of the institute’s interns, applied to work for the Coca-Cola Company and the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, China. Reid, an international studies major, said he chose China for an internship because the country has a promising business market.

“China is developing at a rapid pace, and there are going to be a lot of opportunities for business-I want to get in on the ground level,” Reid said.

The U’s efforts, however, extend beyond China and India. U President Michael Young is currently traveling in Japan and South Korea to build relations in those countries.

Janet Theiss, director of the Asian studies program, said that expanding connections across Asia will be beneficial for Utah as a whole. She said the focus is on China and India right now, but that other countries will be involved in the future.

“There are a lot of untapped opportunities all over Asia, and right now we are taking advantage of those opportunities,” she said.

Theiss said Utah has an inherent “internationality” that many students overlook. She said the U student body has a high percentage of students who speak foreign languages-many of whom, like Reid, are returned missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Theiss said the College of Humanities plans to open an Asia Center next year that will facilitate connections with the continent.

Photo courtesy of Kirk Jowers

Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, recently traveled to Hong Kong to gain funding for international internship opportunities.