Fulbright scholar ‘inspired’ by MDC assignment
Huang “Harry” Lei was impressed by Miami Dade College even before joining the faculty as a Fulbright scholar-in-residence last semester.
When he was in his native China, Huang received his assignment packet to teach economics and international business and couldn’t believe his eyes.
“I couldn’t understand how a university could recruit 170,000 students a year,” he said. “I thought this number was a mistake.”
Since arriving, he has found it easier to comprehend.
“Everything at the College is so professional,” said Huang, who also is the executive dean of the school of management and assistant dean of the MBA program at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in China.
Huang said all that he experienced at the College – from the comprehensive week-long new-faculty orientation to the ongoing training programs for professors – has helped him understand why “MDC is so qualified.”
“It’s inspiring,” he said.
And it’s not a simple matter to impress a man who has achieved as much as Huang, a Fulbright scholar-in-
residence. Only 200 Chinese universities are qualified by the Fulbright program, and from among them, just seven professors are awarded the title annually.
“The Fulbright is very prestigious and a great honor,” Huang said.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in his first love, English literature, Huang worked in Pakistan as an interpreter for a state-owned enterprise, a highly competitive position. During his three years working on an irrigation system in the semi-desert land, Huang was promoted to assistant project manager, not a job usually given to interpreters.
“I realized that language was only a tool,” Huang said. He then quit his job, put writing aside as a hobby and earned a master’s in international economics. From there, he was appointed project manager for a Chinese hydro-power station project in Nepal.
Upon Huang’s return to China, he began to work for the university system.
After years of teaching Chinese students, Huang finds certain aspects of teaching American students very fascinating.
“My students are very open-minded,” he said. “They like to ask questions and challenge the teacher. “In China, students just say ‘OK, OK,’ to everything the teacher says.”
Also, he said the people at the College have made him feel very welcome, by constantly inviting him to have American experiences, such as a family Thanksgiving dinner.
“When I was in Pakistan, after three months I was going crazy missing my home. Nepal was the same thing,” he said. “This is the first time I have been away and felt at home.”
Huang won’t be the last Chinese scholar to teach at MDC. College leaders are reviewing the credentials of five Chinese Fulbright scholars. One of them will teach Mandarin at Wolfson Campus.
— Pilar Ulibarri de Rivera