CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Four students from Marshall University are spending their summer vacations in China — but they're not sightseeing.
Instead of spending the summer touring the country's hubs and tourist attractions, the students are in some of China's most remote locations, teaching English to Chinese teachers.
It's part of something called the Summer Service Learning Program, an initiative among West Virginia State University, Marshall and the Higher Education Policy Commission. The program places West Virginia college students in remote locations in China for a month in the summer and then puts them to work. They get college credit for their efforts.
The students — four from Marshall, among others — are together helping more than 300 Chinese teachers improve their English language skills.
The philosophy behind this approach is simple, according to Hui Ting, one of the project leaders at Tsinghua University, which partners with the program in China.
"In this rural area the teachers' English is not so good, their proficiency in English is quite low compared to the teachers in the city. So the students who are taught by these teachers do not have the advantages that the students in the city do," she said.
"So we think if we teach these teachers then we think these students will have more advantages too."
Marcus Constantino, one of the Marshall students in China this summer, said the teachers he's worked with are largely enthusiastic about speaking better English, but lack the education and interaction with native speakers they need to do so.