Everything about Jacksonville State University was worth a picture.
The president’s burnt-red brick mansion. Flash. The towering library that rose above it. Flash. The campus cut on undulating hills. Flash.
If only they could take a picture of the hospitality.
“Here I think people are very too kind,” said Freeman Wu Lan, an English instructor from Taizhou University.
JSU leaders on Wednesday treated about 15 members of Taizhou to a good ol’ Bama barbecue dinner — ribs, chicken, baked beans, potato salad and sweet tea or lemonade to wash it all down.
The Chinese staff are here for three weeks studying at JSU’s English Language Institute. And they couldn’t be more excited.
They arrived here with preconceived notions that Americans were, to put it lightly, arrogant. But the Jacksonville folk changed it all.
“All the people here are very warm-hearted,” said Jessie Cai, a marketing and communication instructor. “All are friendly.”
JSU trustee Red Etheridge said he hopes they’ll take that friendliness back to their homeland.
“If we do enough of this we’ll be allies instead of being opposed to each other,” he said.
JSU continues to expand its foreign exchange program with China. President Bill Meehan and a handful of other staff recently returned from a visit to China with agreements with four Chinese universities — including Taizhou — to continue bolstering campus relationships. Next year, the school offers its first joint computer science program with Taizhou.
The dinner Wednesday night was about extending an equal courtesy that welcomed the JSU staff when they arrived in China weeks ago, although there was one difference in particular.
“We don’t have any chopsticks,” Meehan joked to one of the Taizhou staff. “This is an all-American meal.”