Associate Professor of Accountancy Ning Du takes a distinctive approach when teaching accounting to DePaul’s international students, many of whom are Chinese. After growing up in China and becoming a Midwest transplant herself, Du is in the unique position to understand the needs, expectations and disposition of Chinese students at DePaul.
“Chinese students are somewhat different than U.S. students,” says Du. “They have unique cultural barriers and diverse classroom behaviors. For example, I have noticed in class that many do not ask questions or raise hands, so it is important to talk to them before or after class to make sure they understood the lecture and discussion. I offer a more individualized approach to make sure that all international students have a better learning environment.”
Du’s teaching philosophy goes beyond lecturing on the basic accounting principles, theories and concepts. She encourages all students to think more critically. Just as important, Du says her students should learn how to present information and communicate effectively to other parties in a business setting. By removing language and cultural barriers and providing a more individualized approach, Du feels that international students will be able to thrive in the program and continue on to great careers.
Du developed her teaching philosophy after noting the differences in her learning experiences after coming to the United States for her master’s in public accounting from Georgia State University and her doctorate in accounting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It took her some time adjusting to the teaching styles, large classroom settings, cultural barriers, and rural settings at the colleges she attended. When Du was offered an opportunity to teach and DePaul, she jumped at the chance to move to a large American city. Having lived in a large metropolitan area like Beijing, Du wanted to be a part of a thriving international business hub.
“I understand what attracts international students to DePaul,” says Du. “DePaul has very unique balance of teaching and research. The class sizes are small and all courses are taught by the actual professors. Also, the location of the college in downtown Chicago is among the best in the world.”
There are many reasons why Chicago makes a great city for Chinese and other international students. Du believes students are attracted here because of the city’s large number of international and Chinese corporations with offices located in the city center, the many social and career opportunities that the university and city offers to students, and Chicago’s expansive public transportation infrastructure, which makes getting around easy.
“What is very unique for DePaul is the excellent support system for international students,” says Du. “We have a course designed for international students where we introduce U.S. corporate culture and academic culture. In addition, there are a lot of opportunities for career counseling and networking. The accounting school has one of the largest alumni groups and offers scholarships and events for students. There are also many student groups that can provide international students with a lot of social engagement.”
Du serves as the student organization advisor for Ascend, a local Asian American student chapter of a large non-profit Pan-Asian organization for business professionals in North America. Du recommends that students get involved not only with student and university organizations, but also within the community.
“International students should not feel like they are at a disadvantage while studying in a foreign country,” says Du. “They should explore the vibrant city, network with alumni and professionals, volunteer at different organizations, and get internships for companies that they want to work for. They should explore the city, visit Chinatown, become immersed in the Chicago culture and take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that DePaul offers to international students.”