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Religious studies grads off to China

By Janet Harron

A brand new scholarship is sending two Memorial University religious studies graduates to China for the first time.

The purpose of the scholarship is to strengthen mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese people and those in the wider world and to develop co-operation and exchange in the fields of education, science, culture, economy and trade between China and other countries.

It is facilitated by representatives from Memorial University and the Department of Education of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Preference is given to students that have completed two to three semesters of Introductory Chinese.

It is not a coincidence that both scholarship winners Megan Stacey and Liam Bennett are graduates of the religious studies department as Dr. Lee Rainey of that department has been offering courses in Chinese language for several years now.

“As a teacher of Chinese language and a frequent visitor to China, I am thrilled that this scholarship has been made available to Memorial students. I wish Megan and Liam both the best of luck as they embark on this adventure of a lifetime,” said Dr. Rainey.

In an interview prior to leaving for China, Ms. Stacey attributed her interest in China to growing up around the bay and the lack of Chinese and Japanese people. “I’ve always been really interested in different cultures,” said Ms. Stacey. After starting off as an English major, Ms. Stacey became very interested in her religious studies electives and after “doing really bad in French” took her first course in Chinese Language with Dr. Rainey.
Having graduated in May, Ms. Stacey was planning to go to Taiwan to study languages before applying for a master’s in religious studies when she received word about the scholarship.

She acknowledged that Dr. Rainey has been “an amazing help” in terms of finding out about the scholarship initially, advising of what to expect in China and what extra words to memorize. Ms. Stacey also attributes her background as a military reservist to being good preparation for the culture shock that she knows awaits her.

Ms. Stacey will be attending Beijing Foreign Studies University in the centre of Beijing, which is part of a cluster of universities in the capital city. Her Mandarin skills? “Weak but existent … I can get myself to the hotel and then on to the university but I wouldn’t want to go shopping yet!”

As this is the first time the scholarship has been awarded, the application process was fairly complicated from a logistical perspective and included submitting hospital blood work, and various other detailed information within a tight timeframe.

“Without all the help from Arch Hutchings (director of the International Education Division in the provincial Department of Education), Dr. Rainey, and my mom, I wouldn’t have been able to go – there was a lot of collaboration involved,” said Ms. Stacey.

Further information on the scholarship can be found at
Eligibility criteria, application forms and procedures about the Chinese Scholarship are available by contacting Dr. Lee Rainey on