Building international partnerships at Suzhou Centennial College
Keen to immerse themselves in the language and the culture, the first students sponsored by the government of Panama to study Mandarin have arrived at Suzhou Centennial College in China. Centennial’s learning site in the famous canal city near Shanghai has earned a prominent role as the educational partner selected by the Panamanian government for the training project.
The Institute for Training and Development of Human Resources (IFARHU) in Panama initially awarded 50 scholarships; 30 students will study Mandarin at Suzhou Centennial College for one year and 20 will study for 18 months. The education project attracted more than 3,000 scholarship applications from Panamanian professionals working in the disciplines of science, technology, research, economics, law and finance, among others.
“The country needs to continue training youth to be a facilitator of trade, unity and diplomacy,” says Juan Carlos Varela, President of the Republic of Panama. “What a joy to see that the country invests in you, in training, so that you can prepare Panama, open doors, roads and, above all, allow Panama to strengthen relations with Asia by using the language,” he says, tweeting the photos.
China and Panama officially established diplomatic relations in 2017, resulting in the inclusion of Panama in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an ambitious infrastructure plan to better connect China with markets in Asia, Europe and Africa. Additionally, China is the second largest user of the Panama Canal, and Panama is China's largest trading partner in Central America.
Centennial College celebrated 20 years of expanding partnerships with Chinese post-secondary institutions, government and industry in 2016. Centennial is also a significant educational partner to the government of Panama. It is the lead institution in Canada for the Panama Bilingual Program and has received eight groups to study English Language Learning (ELL) and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in Canada since 2015. IFARHU has also sponsored 35 students to study English and five students to study supply chain and business operations at Centennial’s Toronto campuses.
Suzhou Centennial College was selected by the Korean Global Practical Training Program to promote university students’ employability. Four students from Hanyang Women's University in South Korea have successfully completed a semester exchange at Suzhou Centennial College, including internships at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Suzhou Industrial Park.
“We see this campus as an opportunity for students to learn about how business is done in the east,” says Virginia Macchiavello, Executive Director, International Education at Centennial College. The Suzhou Centennial College learning site forms part of the Suzhou Dushu Lake Science and Education Innovation District, which ensures our students are supported by strong partnerships and are well connected with industry in China.