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Broadening his perspective

Grad leaves with M.Ed and deeper understanding of different cultures

special feature: Student success

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring convocation 2017.

By Marcia Porter

It is often said that the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.

That’s what led Hailiang Zhao, a new master of education degree graduate, to Newfoundland and Labrador from Hebei province in Northern China. He’d spent the previous 10 years working in the field of international education at Hebei University of Science and Technology, but decided he wanted more.

“The more intensive my connections with international partners became, the more I felt that I needed to update my knowledge about international education,” he said.

On a quest

Mr. Zhao studied cross-cultural communications for a year in the United States, and then began his quest to find a university that offered “the best value, with quality programs, cultural diversity and reasonable cost.”

His search led him to Memorial’s Faculty of Education, where he applied to do a master’s degree in educational leadership studies. He arrived in St. John’s in 2013.

“And my experience showed me I made the right decision,” said Mr. Zhao. “All the professors I studied with were knowledgeable, and they became my friends. The courses were well designed with the perfect combination of theory and practical purposes.”

“I never felt lonely or lost and the online courses made it possible for the students to study anytime and anywhere.” — Hailiang Zhao

He also appreciated that faculty members were easily accessible and encouraged students to ask questions.

Nothing to fear

At first he was a little apprehensive about a couple of his online courses. Mr. Zhao wondered if he’d be able to communicate and interact well enough to keep up.

“I worried about my online learning at the very beginning because the students did not sit in the class, and had no face-to-face interactions with the professors,” he said. “However, I was assured when I read the plentiful learning materials the professors posted. What’s more, the students were all active in discussing the questions raised by the professors. I never felt lonely or lost and the online courses made it possible for the students to study anytime and anywhere.”

He also enjoyed studying with students from different countries, including Africa, Europe, and the other Asian countries.

Deeper understanding

Then, in 2014 he became vice-president of the International Students Society of Education (ISSE). Through his work with the group, he gained a deeper understanding and respect for other cultures.

“The ISSE was a bridge between the international students and the faculty, through which the ideas of each side could be feedback to the other,” said Mr. Zhao. “It was a platform for the international students of the Faculty of Education too, where we helped each other with academic issues as well as daily life difficulties.”

Mr. Zhao is unable to attend his session of convocation the afternoon of June 3, but he is excited about this academic milestone in his life and says he will miss life and studying at Memorial. He’s hoping to visit his friends in the Faculty of Education in late August, on the way to the University of Western Ontario where he’s set to begin his PhD program.

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