From most indications, the big buzz at Kean University’s Undergraduate Spring Open House was all about China.
After Kean President Dawood Farahi unveiled to thousands of prospective students and their parents that the future Kean Wenzhou campus will feature ample opportunity for students to study there, it was the breakout news on everyone’s lips.
It certainly perked up 15-year-old Charles Mooreland’s ears. Mooreland was one of more than 35 students visiting the Kean campus as part of an Upward Bound college tour group from Baltimore.
“I’m in my first year of Chinese in high school,’’ said Mooreland, a freshman at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore. “I’d love to go abroad in China someday. Since I was a small kid I’ve always loved the Chinese and their advanced technology, how they study, the way they run their households. And besides that, I eat Chinese food almost every day.’’
The prospect of China was appealing to 17-year-old Emma Ghezzi as well.
“I have an aunt who spent some time in Korea and the thought of going somewhere like China would be amazing,’’ said Ghezzi, an aspiring artist.
Farahi expressed to the open house audience that it’s important for students to broaden their horizons beyond “being from Jersey and speaking Jersey language. Those days are over. If you can speak Chinese, Japanese and other languages your chances of success are going to be a bit higher. At Kean, we will be a leader in international education.’’
Gary and Julie Ghezzi , Emma’s parents, said they’ve heard many good things about Kean and they feel comfortable about the campus’ proximity to their Rockaway home.
“She’d like to stay on campus and this is about 35 minutes away from home,’’ Julie Ghezzi said. “ So, it’s not so far if she wants to come home for a weekend.’’
Ultimately, Emma Ghezzi said she appreciates that Kean seems like a campus without all the trappings of urban life.
“I’m not a big city person,’’ she said. “I like how personal everything seems here and it’s easy to walk around.’’
Cousins Andy Mins of Burlington and Taryn Farrior of Willingboro haven’t quite made their minds up about colleges but liked what they saw during their Kean visit.
“I like the distance it is from my house and the opportunity that the president talked about studying abroad,’’ Taryn Farrior said.
Anna Farrior, Taryn’s mother, said there’s a 70 percent chance her daughter will opt for Kean.
“Just seeing it visually is making it all real for her,’’ Anna Farrior said. “But Taryn’s the type of young lady who has been thinking about going to college since elementary school. Initially, she was considering out of state but she’s sort of a home body and knows the benefits of being close to home. She’s excited.’’
For Michael Branch and Morgan Sutton, two students from the Baltimore Upward Bound group that attended the open house, it was impressive to hear Farahi say that he listened to the voices of the students on such initiatives as a 24-hour computer lab and the addition of a Starbucks franchise.
Branch, a 17-year-old senior, also added his voice to the chorus of cheers about Kean’s endeavors in China.
“To me, that’s smart to expand in a foreign place,’’ said Branch, an aspiring mechanical engineer. “It’s good that he’s (Farahi) conscious of that because that’s the way it is in the business world as well. I would definitely consider coming to college here.’’