A Chinese university’s global reporting students covered the U.S. elections from the Penn State campus for the fourth time this week.
Students from Shanghai International Studies University, through a partnership with Penn State’s College of Communications, also covered U.S. elections in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
The group of 20 students and three media professionals spent about a week in Washington, D.C., before arriving in State College Saturday.
“In addition to journalism students, we have students who study international affairs, English, German, Arabic and so on,” said Weijia Deng, an associate professor who directs the program.
The students’ work is published on the reporting program’s public account on WeChat, a Chinese social app that combines a messaging function with a social media feature. Students write stories and post photos and videos on the platform.
Zhi Li, a senior majoring in English, anchored and wrote for the program’s reports. Li said that as a first-time visitor to America, he was curious about everything.
“America is such a diverse country with a long history, and people want to learn about it,” Li said.
On Election Day, the students split into six groups to visit polling places in State College and Penn State and report on a presidential election that China has been closely watching. Li and his group interviewed voters at the State College Municipal Building. They spent election night in the HUB-Robeson Center with many Penn State students, watching live broadcasts and awaiting the results.
Wenqi He, a graduate student studying German and journalism, said she was amazed at how Americans were very politically involved.
“We did quite a lot of man-on-the-street interviews, and I found most people have clear focuses when it comes to politics and social issues,” she said. “Our audience back home receives news of America mostly from mainstream media. But we are able to provide fresh ideas through our personal experience.”
Deng said she believed the students’ work would be a great addition to reports by traditional print or broadcast media in China.
The students are also producing a documentary of their trip, which is planned to air on Shanghai’s Discovery Channel after they return.
Min Xian is a journalism student at Penn State.
To read the reports of SISU’s program, search “sisuglobalreporting” on WeChat. The app can be downloaded in AppStore and Android market.