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BGU Launches Program for Chinese Students in Israel

BGU Launches Program for Chinese Students in Israel

April 23, 2015

Israel Studies, Culture & Jewish Thought, Press Releases

BGU recently completed a pilot eight-day introduction to Israel program for Chinese students studying at Israeli universities. The program was developed to provide them with basic knowledge about the history of Israel, the Jewish people and the Bible.

While many Chinese students are now studying in Israel, they are often bewildered by life outside the lab and classroom. To close the cultural gap, funding was provided by the Los Angeles-based Diane & Guilford Glazer Foundation for The Glazer-BGU Israel Studies Seminar for Chinese Students at BGU’s Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism.

“The Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation has a long-time interest in strengthening mutual understanding between Israel and the People’s Republic of China,” explains John Fishel, director of the Glazer Foundation. “It believes that not only having the opportunity to study in Israel, but to also get to know the land and people of Israel will hopefully result in meaningful relationships over the long term for these Chinese students.”


Students exploring the Negev

With an impressive enrollment of 42 students from several Israeli universities, the pilot was well received. The curriculum touched on science and innovation, but it mostly focused on providing the religious, historical, cultural, and sociological background that Chinese students are often missing.

There was a carefully thought out progression to the curriculum,” explains Dr. Aryeh Tepper, the program’s academic director. “The week started by celebrating the Sabbath together, where the Biblical origins and connection to the land of Israel and religious holidays were discussed. Rabbi Dr. Sharon Shalom spoke to them on his experiences making aliyah from Ethiopia by himself at age nine.”

The subsequent lessons covered the modern Zionist movement in Europe, aliyah from Arab and Islamic countries, absorption of Jews in the Negev, scientific innovation, and focused on Israeli democracy, the Declaration of Independence and Israeli culture. Along the way, the students visited the Negev, Tel Aviv and wrapped up in Jerusalem on the eve of Passover.

Student Lei Ye is studying for his MBA at Bar-Ilan University. “This program has opened my mind and view to a totally strange world, but a very meaningful and worthwhile one. Most of us would like to know more. It is amazing and unbelievable how the Jewish people were recalled and came together to build a new country based on religious values and to recover Hebrew,” he said.

Faculty members of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute gave the lectures in English, each according to his or her field of expertise. In addition to academic presentations, lectures were accompanied by meetings with people who have been part of the history of the State of Israel, as well as with local leaders and artists who are influential in the contemporary Israeli space. The program is endorsed by the Israel Council of Higher Education.

Located on BGU’s Sde Boker campus, the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism operates the Israel Studies International Program, a graduate program in which several Chinese students enroll each year. The Institute is also home to the Ben-Gurion Archives, the equivalent of a Presidential Library in the United States. The Archives house Ben-Gurion’s extensive collection of personal papers, diaries and letters. Over the years, other important collections have been added from the Israel State Archives, Jabotinsky Archives, Labor Archives and more, providing scholars with a unique window into Israel’s past and the early days of the Zionist movement.


By supporting a world-class academic institution that not only nurtures the Negev, but also shares its expertise locally and globally, Americans for Ben-Gurion University engages a community of Americans who are committed to improving the world. David Ben-Gurion envisioned that Israel’s future would be forged in the Negev. The cutting-edge research carried out at Ben-Gurion University drives that vision by sustaining a desert Silicon Valley, with the “Stanford of the Negev” at its center. The Americans for Ben-Gurion University movement supports a 21st century unifying vision for Israel by rallying around BGU’s remarkable work and role as an apolitical beacon of light in the Negev desert.

About Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev embraces the endless potential we have as individuals and as a commonality to adapt and to thrive in changing environments. Inspired by our location in the desert, we aim to discover, to create, and to develop solutions to dynamic challenges, to pose questions that have yet to be asked, and to push beyond the boundaries of the commonly accepted and possible.

We are proud to be a central force for inclusion, diversity and innovation in Israel, and we strive to extend the Negev’s potential and our entrepreneurial spirit throughout the world. For example, the multi-disciplinary School for Sustainability and Climate Change at BGU leverages over 50 years of expertise on living and thriving in the desert into scalable solutions for people everywhere.

BGU at a glance:  

20,000 students | 800 senior faculty | 3 campuses | 6 faculties: humanities & social sciences, health sciences, engineering sciences, natural sciences, business & management, and desert research.


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