Students in UNT's Hong Kong/China Study Abroad program learn about the production of leather garments in China.
A class of about 30 UNT students is participating in the university's summer Hong Kong/China Study Abroad program without ever leaving Denton.
Technology makes it possible.
The university calls this new exploratory course E-passport, as in an electronic or virtual passport to Hong Kong/China.
Held on campus this summer, the class is running just behind the study abroad program that 37 UNT merchandising, marketing and fashion design students experienced abroad May 26 through June 15.
The cultural events, professional appointments, research interviews and sights and sounds captured on videotape in Hong Kong and China was promptly sent to UNT for viewing online and in the classroom for E-passport students.
"We wanted to expand the opportunities for our students," says Dee Knight, assistant professor in the School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management, one of three faculty members teaching in the study abroad program. "There are students who cannot afford the $3,595 for the program and on top of that the course tuition."
Although the university awards scholarships, it's the time - not the money - that prevents some students from taking off three weeks to go abroad, especially those with work and family responsibilities.
An E-passport is an ideal solution, students say. It's the next best thing to being there.
The study abroad program is in its fifth year. It includes tours of factories and ports in China and allows students to observe the apparel supply chain from fiber manufacture through shipment of finished garments.
Each year, students meet face-to-face with business executives, industry leaders and government officials in China and Hong Kong. They also have time for some sightseeing and interaction with Chinese university students.
UNT merchandising graduate student Cynthia Goudeau documented this educational journey with a variety of cameras as the trip's official videographer/graduate assistant.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic," says Goudeau, a Kansas City, Mo., native who has a background in broadcast journalism. "I've never left the United States. This will be my first time traveling overseas."
In addition to videotaping and snapping photographs, Goudeau also sent e-mails of written narratives or descriptive dispatches to E-passport students every day.
"I think my greatest challenge will probably be making sure that I get the right shot and information so that students actually feel like they were there on the trip," she says. "I really want them to feel like they were a part of the culture, that they experienced that."
Lynn Brandon, associate professor of Merchandising and Hospitality Management, teaches the E-passport course on campus. She has gone to China and Hong Kong on past UNT-sponsored trips and can help re-create and interpret what the students will see and hear.
In addition, numerous cultural experiences are being arranged on and off campus for the E-passport students -- everything from going out for dim sum to meeting with Chinese businesspeople in the Dallas-Fort Worth region to enrich the academic coursework.