MONTGOMERY, AL - Later this month, Na Li, a 22-year-old native of Hunan Province, China, will become the first Chinese student to graduate from the AUM China Initiative Program which began in 2007. Li will graduate Saturday, Dec. 19, with an Information Systems degree from AUM.
"I've been in college for more than four years, so I'm really excited to graduate," said Li. "My family is really excited. I will graduate at 4 a.m. in the morning on Sunday in China. My father told me that the whole family will stay up and watch the live show on the computer and will cheer for me."
"Na Li was in the first group of Chinese students I recruited to come to AUM," said Dr. Yaw-Chin Ho, special assistant to the chancellor for International Affairs. "She will be the first to graduate since we signed the agreement in 2007."
Ho said 40 students are currently enrolled in the program and two more will graduate in the spring.
Li has spent the last year and a half studying at AUM and plans to continue her education after graduation by immediately starting work on her Master of Business Administration at AUM beginning spring semester.
"I want to do something in system design," said Li. "I want to manage a system for employees, inventory and customer information for a company."
Li said both the AUM and Montgomery communities have been very receptive and welcoming to her as an exchange student, and she hasn't had the experience some people in China said it would be like.
"Before I came to America, I thought there was a lot of crime – lots of gun shots and accidents," said Li. "I feel safe here, and I haven't found that true. I feel good here. I like Montgomery a lot."
The biggest shock Li had coming from China to America was the many resources people in America have compared to China, said Li.
"For example, in America, air conditioning is 24 hours. In China that would never happen," said Li.
To Li the food isn't much different, given that both America and China have similar American fast food restaurants, but she's found Korean stores in Montgomery helpful when cooking her favorite Chinese meals, and she has enjoyed the hospitality from the community.