China: Language, Cultures, and Ethnic Minorities

Faculty and Staff


Lu Yuan, PhD, Academic Director
Dr. Lu Yuan holds a PhD in international/China studies from the University of Technology, Sydney. After receiving her BA in Chinese literature and journalism from People's University, Beijing, Lu Yuan worked for seven years as a journalist with Xinhua, the official news agency of China, and as editor of the publication Chinese Journalist. From 1989–1990, Dr. Lu was a Parvin Fellow on a journalism training program sponsored by the East-West Center at the University of Hawai'i. She taught Chinese at Banaras Hindu University in north India as part of her MA degree work in Chinese language teaching from SIT Graduate Institute (formerly the School for International Training).

In addition to her visits to Tibet and the minority regions of Mongolia, Ningxia, and Yunnan, Lu Yuan spent three years in Kathmandu, Nepal, while her husband, Sam, co-directed the SIT Nepal program.

As academic director, Lu Yuan has overseen the entire SIT China program since its inception in the fall of 1994. In addition to giving lectures, advising students, and coordinating academic seminars, Dr. Lu also plans the program's educational excursions and works to ensure that students' academic needs are fully met. Lu Yuan has also served as the academic director for the summer Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine program since 2004.

Mr. Zhao Jie, Language Instructor and Program Assistant
Born in Shanghai and raised in Kunming, Zhao Jie received a Bachelor of Science degree from Yunnan University in 2003 and a Master of Science from Yunnan University in 2006. Fluent in both Chinese and English, Zhao Jie has a particular interest in paleontology and has conducted research and published extensively in this field. He has been in charge of international affairs on projects with both the University of Leicester (UK) and the Natural History Museum of Sweden. He has been teaching at Yunnan Normal University and Yunnan Nationalities University as a Chinese language teacher since 2001 and has worked as a language teacher and program assistant for the SIT China/Yunnan program since 2002.

Ms. Luo Xiaolei, Language Program Coordinator
Born and raised in Kunming, Luo Xiaolei received a bachelor’s degree in English from Yunnan University in 1989. She worked as office staff and as a translator for the Foreign Affairs Office of Yunnan University as well as for companies in Zhuhai and Hong Kong from 1989 to 1997. She has been teaching Chinese to foreigners at Yunnan University, Yunnan Normal University, and Yunnan Nationalities University since 2002 and has been teaching SIT students since 2003. Ms. Luo has served as an SIT language program coordinator since the fall of 2007.

Ms. Zhou Yan, Student Affairs Coordinator
Ms. Zhou Yan, of Yi nationality, was born in Yun County, Yunnan Province, a remote minority area. Ms. Zhou obtained a bachelor’s degree in English from the Xian Foreign Languages Institute, one of the most well-known schools in China, in 2008. She returned to her home province and joined SIT’s staff following graduation. She has served as student affairs coordinator with the SIT program in China since the spring of 2008.

John F. Thorne, PhD, Academic Advisor
John received a BA in international studies (concentration: Asia) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1968. He was an MPhil candidate in social anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, 1976–78. He received his PhD in social/cultural anthropology from the University of Hong Kong in 1997. John has edited numerous academic books, articles, and research papers, chiefly in social sciences, as well as several film scripts and two novels. He has taught English at the University of District of Columbia and the Hong Kong Institute of Language and Communication and anthropology/Asian studies at the University of Hong Kong. John has been serving as the academic advisor for the SIT Study Abroad program in Yunnan since November 2011.

Dr. Duo Lin, HIV/AIDS Expert
Duo Lin has earned medical degrees in Kunming and London. Since 2002, he has been involved with research, public health, and health education related to HIV/AIDS, intravenous drug use, and sexual transmission of disease in Yunnan, including among ethnic minorities, and in those areas bordering Southeast Asian countries. He is currently the manager of the Yunnan Province HIV/AIDS Asia Regional Project, sponsored by the Australian government and has participated in and managed other local and regional projects concerning the spread and control of HIV/AIDS. He has contributed to numerous publications and has served as a consultant and participant in national and international conferences on the subject. Since 2006, Duo Lin has been a senior lecturer and ISP advisor for the SIT China semester program and a senior lecturer with the SIT China summer program.

Associate Professor Xiong Bin, Lecturer on Regional Economics and Business
Xiong Bin has degrees in international business and management, as well as in English, from universities in Yunnan and Thailand, and she has lectured at universities and worked in private businesses in both China and Thailand. She is currently an associate professor of management and economics at the Kunming University of Science and Technology. Her specialty is in regional economic development and international business and management. Her participation in numerous international collaborative research projects and conferences concerning the important and rapid economic development involving China’s Yunnan Province and the adjoining Southeast Asian countries of the Greater Mekong sub-region has led to numerous published articles and papers, and she has won awards for the quality of her teaching. Xiong Bin has been a senior lecturer and ISP advisor for the SIT China semester program since 2002.

Professor Shen Haimei, Anthropologist
Dr. Shen Haimei is a professor of anthropology at the Yunnan Provincial Ethnology Research Institute, Yunnan Nationalities University. Her research interests include Yunnan local history, women/gender studies and ethnicity in southwest China, HIV/AIDS and public health, and the trafficking of women and transnational Asian female immigrants in China. Her two authored books, her numerous articles in Chinese and English, and her editorial works and translations have embodied these interests and have become important resources for the anthropological and historical understanding of Yunnan’s unique peoples, as has been indicated by the various fellowships she has held at universities in the US, the UK, and Singapore. Professor Shen Haimei has been a senior lecturer and ISP advisor with the SIT China semester program since 2002.

Professor Yang Hui, Anthropologist
Yang Hui received her education in anthropology and political science in China and the United States. She is currently a professor with and the director of the Institute of Anthropology and Ethnology at Yunnan University. She has taught courses in sociocultural anthropology at undergraduate and graduate levels and has been a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and a visiting professor in Hong Kong. Her numerous published articles, edited works, translations, and ethnographic documentary films have focused on Yunnan and Yunnan’s minorities in particular, and she remains an important contributor and authority in these fields, as well as in the fields of tourism in ethnic minority areas and economic development among transnational minority groups in Yunnan and Southeast Asia. Professor Yang Hui has been a senior lecturer and ISP advisor for the SIT China semester program since 1998.

Professor Yang Fuquan
Professor Yang is a member of the Naxi ethnic nationality. He holds a PhD in Chinese ethnic history and culture and is a professor with and vice president of the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences in Kunming, as well as the director of the Local Historical Studies Department of Yunnan Province. He is the author of 28 academic books and more than 150 articles on topics concerning identity and relationships between traditional knowledge systems and biodiversity conservation, cultural conflict, and cultural change among the ethnic peoples of Yunnan, especially concerning the Naxi ethnic group. He has given lectures and presentations in Germany, the United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and elsewhere. He has acted as a leader and coordinator of several international research projects focused on traditional resource management, indigenous knowledge systems, cultural conservation, biodiversity protection, and ecotourism issues in the ethnic minority areas of Yunnan. Professor Yang Fuquan has been a senior lecturer and ISP advisor with the SIT China semester program since 1999.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Kunming

Language Study: Chinese

Prerequisites: None


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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