Two North­eastern stu­dents studying inter­na­tional busi­ness have earned schol­ar­ships to spend eight months in China studying the lan­guage and cul­ture through the Fulbright-​​Hays Group Projects Abroad program.

Second-​​year stu­dent Nick Sypteras and third-​​year stu­dent Jacob Fabri­cius depart for China on Sat­urday. The pro­gram com­prises studying lan­guage and cul­ture at Shaanxi Normal Uni­ver­sity, par­tic­i­pating in five-​​week intern­ships at Chi­nese com­pa­nies within the Xi’an High-​​Tech Devel­op­ment Zone, and taking edu­ca­tional field trips to cul­tural sites while studying in the Shannxi Province.

The Fulbright-​​Hays schol­ar­ships were funded through the U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion, which pro­vides inter­na­tional edu­ca­tion grants to var­ious insti­tu­tions and orga­ni­za­tions across the country. Sypteras and Fabri­cius’ awards were admin­is­tered by the Uni­ver­sity of Massachusetts-Boston’s China Pro­gram Center, one of the insti­tu­tions that received the fed­eral grants.

Four­teen other stu­dents at New Eng­land uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges also earned the honor. The selec­tion cri­teria included Chi­nese lan­guage pro­fi­ciency, the ability to serve as a cul­tural ambas­sador, and lead­er­ship and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills.

For Sypteras and Fabri­cius, this cultural-​​immersion pro­gram marks a return to the Asian nation. Last summer, both stu­dents par­tic­i­pated in a Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram to China, where they spent six weeks taking inten­sive lan­guage classes, working at var­ious Chi­nese com­pa­nies, and meeting key fig­ures in gov­ern­ment, industry, art, cul­ture, and jour­nalism during lec­tures and site visits around the country.

The Dia­logue pro­gram pre­pared us extremely well for this new expe­ri­ence,” Fabri­cius said.

It was useful to examine the dif­fer­ences between Chi­nese and Amer­ican busi­nesses,” added Sypteras. “The goal we shared was to come away from the Dia­logue with pro­fi­ciency in Chi­nese lan­guage, cul­ture, and busi­ness. If our careers ever take us there, we’ll be ready for that experience.”

Hua Dong, an aca­d­emic spe­cialist and coor­di­nator of the Chi­nese Lan­guage Pro­gram at North­eastern, has led the Dia­logue pro­gram to China since 2007. Dong noted that she was impressed with the stu­dents’ work not only in China last summer but also in her Chi­nese lan­guage course prior to the Dia­logue program.

Both stu­dents were open to all kinds of chal­lenges they faced,” Dong said. “They were also quite resilient to the dif­fi­cult chal­lenges I pre­sented in our lan­guage class.

While they are busi­ness stu­dents, they are curious about all aspects of Chi­nese cul­ture. They didn’t just focus on the Chi­nese busi­nesses and ignore the social and cul­tural his­tory. I think that’s what makes them really stand out.”