New China campus opens eyes, ears and minds of FDU students

Behind Fairleigh Dickinson University student Shaka Lemoniaus is Hailuogou, a snow mountain in Chengdu, China. ‘This was my first time hiking in my life and I felt so accomplished,’ she says. ‘There were also hot springs at this mountain which made the experience that much better! (Photo courtesy of Shaka Lemoniaus)

By Kenna Caprio

Shaka Lemoniaus promised herself that she would take advantage of a Fairleigh Dickinson University study abroad program once a year. After all, she picked the University because of its very emphasis on global opportunities.

So far, the junior has traveled to Wroxton College and, most recently, Chengdu, China. The 20-year-old Newark native and criminal justice major has designs on doing a summer program in Spain next year.

“I chose China for a semester abroad because I wanted to experience living in a world completely different than the one I’m accustom to,” she says. “Whenever I went out with my friends, practiced my Chinese or embraced the culture around me, I knew my dreams were coming true.”

Seven FDU students, including Lemoniaus, traveled to the new Chengdu American Center for Study Abroad to study and explore during the spring 2013 semester, says Anne Miksza, a study abroad specialist in the Office of Global Learning.

“They sampled new foods, attended opera performances, interned at local schools and built long-lasting relationships with Sichuan University students while completing their general education requirements,” she continues. “These kind of study abroad experiences last a lifetime.”

These students were the first to study at the new Center, a collaborative effort on Sichuan University’s campus between Global Maximum Educational Opportunities, Inc. and its principal partners FDU, Concordia University Chicago, Merrimack College in Massachusetts and Norwich University in Vermont. G-MEO’s mission is to increase the number of American students studying abroad in China, by supporting U.S.-style learning environments and offering internship and community service opportunities.

“I chose to teach English to kindergartners, seventh and eighth grade students. The experience was one that I will never forget,” says Lemoniaus. “The students were so amazed by my skin color and were eager to learn. They all expressed how they wanted to go to school in America. This internship was a constant reminder of how lucky I am.”

Outside of internships and classes, FDU students visited the Chengdu Panda Breeding Center, attended the Lantern Festival at Tazishan Park, toured the Puxie Tea Plantation and experienced the Du Jiang Yan Water Releasing Festival.

While exploring the ‘ancient towns’ of China, James Louderback pauses for a quick photo. (Photo by ‘Daisy’ Hu Binyue)

James Louderback, a former College at Florham film major with a minor in business administration, found his semester abroad in Chengdu so transformative that he’s opted to stay and complete college at South Western University of Finance and Economics. He switched his major to marketing and selected South Western because “it is the number two college in all of China for any major in the economics field.”

“I was always planning to work and live in China one day,” he continues. It just made sense to him to get started early. “In staying here longer, I’ll be without any extensive break from learning Mandarin. I can fully immerse myself in the language, and that will increase the opportunity for me to get a job here in China.” He’s also planning to complete a master’s degree abroad in China.

Regardless, he says, “FDU is an incredible school and I highly recommend it to others.” Originally, he picked the University because of its name and film program. Without Fairleigh Dickinson University’s study abroad program, Louderback wouldn’t have been able to get a jump on his expatriate future.

“I strongly recommend other FDU students come to China, specifically Chengdu. They’ll gain a cross-cultural perspective and bring it back with them to enlighten other U.S. citizens,” says Louderback. “Students can make new friends and engage in language exchanges.”

For Lemoniaus, her time in Asia set in motion a new travel goal.

“Studying abroad has changed me for the better,” says Lemoniaus. “I’m starting to think that I would like to live outside of the United States once I graduate.”

Read more about Lemoniaus and Louderback’s China adventures on their g-MEO blogs!

To apply for an upcoming semester in Chengdu or for information on other study abroad programs, contact Brian Swanzey, director of Wroxton and study abroad, at 973-443-8086 or

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

FDU Office of Public Relations

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Helen Grill,
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