DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — It was an opportunity for the public to learn more about the culture of East Asia and for Foxcroft Academy’s approximately 100 international students to understand how they fit into the United States and a more global economy.
That opportunity came Friday during a daylong seminar at Center Theatre, ‘’China, Japan and Korea: Perspectives on East Asia,’’ which was sponsored by Foxcroft Academy and the Maine Humanities Council. Jon Pratt, FA’s academic dean, spent considerable time planning the event with assistance from Tom Lizotte, chairman of the Maine Humanities Board and an FA trustee.
‘’’This all starts with understanding where both of us are starting out, giving people an idea of how Chinese view Americans and Americans view Chinese,’’ Lizotte said Friday during the event, which drew about 100 people.
The keynote speakers for the day were Jim Millinger of Topsham, an independent scholar of Chinese history and culture who spoke on ‘’China’s America and America’s China,’’ and Bradley Babson of Brunswick, a consultant on East Asia and former World Bank employee who spoke on ‘’North and South Korea Today.’’ Both men explored the history of the Asian countries and their relationships with the United States.
The event was not only educational but it also offered participants a chance to discuss the issues, Arnold Shorey, FA head of school, said Friday.
‘’Someone asked about the history of communism in China, and one of our Chinese students said, ’yes, we find that your interpretation of our history is much different than our interpretation,’’’ Shorey recalled after the seminar’s end.
All the students who attended the seminar said it was very worthwhile, according to Shorey, who said FA would continue its conversations on how the school can improve its international program.
Chinese students have mentioned repeatedly that their education system is very rigid and strict and is less about activities and co-curricular activities and that’s an adjustment for them, Shorey said. ‘’They’re very focused, and the reason why they’re here is to get that education and to learn the English language,’’ he said.
Lizotte said that one of FA’s missions is to help integrate the international students into U.S. society.
People laughed when FA built its dormitory for international students, Lizotte said, noting that FA could fill two dormitories now if it wanted to expand its international student population. FA, however, wants to keep a balance between local and international students, he said.
‘’Having that diversity for the school is a wonderful thing because there’s not a whole lot of that in rural Maine,’’ Lizotte said. In addition, the tuition allows FA to continue to offer its Advanced Placement programs, foreign languages and electives.
The international students learn the skills they need to get into American colleges, they help stabilize the school enrollment and the local economy, and the local kids have the diversity, Lizotte said.
‘’It’s a win-win for all,’’ Lizotte said.