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2008 News Releases

Local organization bridging gap between East and West

August 4, 2008

A recently formed local organization is trying to bridge the gap between East and West.

The official mission of the Central Virginia chapter of the US-China Peoples Friendship Association (USCPFA) is to "develop and strengthen friendship and understanding between the peoples of the United States and China." The chapter, founded in June 2007, is affiliated with Longwood University and evolved from the university’s exchange with a Chinese university but is open to anyone.

"Our purpose is to support the Chinese students and to provide an awareness of China as a world player," said the chapter president, Lonnie Calhoun, Longwood’s director of multicultural affairs and international student services. "We’re not political at all. Our premise is friendship and broadening the understanding of the relationship between China and the United States. We have helped place Chinese students in local homes over the winter break, which is a four-week break, and have provided opportunities for them to learn about the U.S., through trips to Washington, Charlottesville and Williamsburg."

Beginning in the fall of 2004, Longwood has had an exchange with Anhui University of Technology (AHUT) in Ma’anshan, China. The Chinese university has sent business students to Longwood every year since then, some of whom return for a second year. Some 28 AHUT students, the most in the exchange, are due to study at Longwood this year. In the past few years, AHUT professors have come to Longwood to teach Chinese or to observe classes.

"Because of the exchange, you need an awareness of China and a sensitive structure in place," Calhoun said. "With the large number of students this year, we’ll need a larger support network. My office’s job is to welcome the students and help them with the transition. Fortunately, Longwood students, faculty and staff have become interested in China. We’ve created some synergy for all kinds of activities. The China initiative provided an opportunity, and I went to people interested in China, both on campus and in the community, and asked them to become involved. I’ve just taken the initiative and given it legs. The sky’s the limit with the chapter."

The Central Virginia chapter also has presented programs that include China updates by Dr. William Dorrill, a member and former Longwood president who is a China expert, and, earlier this year, a Chinese New Year program and a lecture on Christianity in China by Dr. John Peale, a retired Longwood faculty member who has written a book on the subject.

The local chapter is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) educational organization. It has 23 dues-paying members and a web site: longwood.edu/uscpfa. Annual dues are $30, of which $18 goes to the local chapter and $12 to the national organization. Members are given a subscription to the USCPFA’s quarterly journal, US-China Review. To join or for more information, contact Lonnie Calhoun by phone, 395-2395, or email, calhounli@longwood.edu.

The US-China Peoples Friendship Association was founded as a national organization in 1974 – five years before the two countries officially established diplomatic relations – and has more than 50 chapters. It is financed by membership dues, individual donations, local fund-raising activities and tours to China.