SISU Hosts a Semester at Sea IC Exchange

On Thursday, November 29, Professor Nan Sussman and her 20 Intercultural Communication Course students disembarked from their ship at Shanghai port. They had already traveled half way around the world, stopping in countries such as Spain, South Africa, India and Vietnam. Today, Prof. Sussman and her group were ready to visit Shanghai International Studies University’s (SISU) Intercultural Institute (SII) for a full day of intercultural engagement.


Prof. Sussman and her students are a part of this year’s Semester at Sea (SAS) program, which provides global learning and study abroad experiences. In recent years, noted intercultural scholars like Michael Prosser, Ken Cushner, and Nan Sussman have been invited as resident directors of intercultural learning onboard the ship, each stopping in Shanghai with their students.


The day began with Vice Principal Zhu Haiyan and PhD candidate Yao Chunyu hosting the SAS course group at SISU’s Songjiang Foreign Language School. SAS students gained firsthand exposure to the school curriculum and activities of students in a Shanghai primary school system. By dividing into groups and interacting with 4th graders, SAS students were able to observe the students’ communicative English skills while also experiencing Physical Education, Natural Science, and English classes.

As one of the morning’s goals was to convert “research into practice,” Yao gathered data from both SAS and primary school students regarding different education styles, teacher-student interactions, and activities organized to develop age-specific intercultural competence.


Afterwards, SAS students briefly toured SISU’s nearby Songjiang campus, noticing the different culturally influenced architectural buildings before travelling back to SISU’s Hongkou campus.


SII Director Steve Kulich and 10 SISU MA/PhD students hosted the SAS students for lunch, then both groups engaged in an afternoon of academic discussions. SAS students shared ideas of research projects for their intercultural course, while SISU MA and PhD students discussed their thesis and dissertation projects. Prof. Sussman and Prof. Kulich also talked briefly about re-examining intercultural theories in today’s Chinese cultural context.


In the afternoon, both parties toured the historic Ohel Moshe Synagogue and the Jewish Refugee Museum in Hongkou district. Students were encouraged to explore some of the historical influences affecting ethnic or economic migration, challenges in intercultural interaction, and relocation issues. At the end of the day, SISU students noted that the exchange activities were “enriching, enlightening, and unforgettable” and look forward to future exchanges with SAS voyage stopovers.


SAS is one of the longest running (since 1963) and most influential programs for global cultural learning, with more than 68,000 individuals from 1,700 institutions having travelled to more than 60 countries. Over the course of 100 days, students explore at least 10 countries from across 4 continents, choosing from an array of 75 available courses taught by world-renowned faculty throughout various disciplines. SAS has been supported by various universities (based at Chapman University, University of Colorado, University of Pittsburg, University of Virginia, and now Colorado State University) as part of their internationalization programs.

Follow the links below to see past or future visits from SAS to SISU:

*This year’s voyage docked at Shanghai on the last week of November, with more than 300 students spending the first 2-3 days travelling in groups to different parts of China, including Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. See SAS’s website for more information at:

Former SII Faculty member (2005-2009), Michael Prosser is pictured in the forum held during his 2011 voyage:

Ken Cushner will be stopping soon in Shanghai from Jan 31-Feb 1, 2019. Click to see info on the 2017 visit:


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