On September 16, 2017, Wanxiang Group and the University of Illinois signed a memorandum of understanding in Hangzhou, China, to create the Wanxiang Fellows Program, a new study abroad program for University of Illinois students. The program supports 100,000 Strong, an initiative launched in 2009 to increase the number of US students studying abroad in China, which is led by the US-China Strong Foundation, a nonprofit committed to strengthening US-China ties.
In the new Wanxiang Fellows Program, students from the University of Illinois System will spend their summers studying at Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic in Hangzhou. There, the students will study the Chinese language and clean energy. The program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students from all universities belonging to Illinois. Faculty from the University of Illinois System will also participate in the program.
All costs for the program are covered by Wanxiang, one of the largest private companies in China, which will provide a grant of $600,000 over the next two years with the first cohort of Wanxiang Fellows traveling to Hangzhou in the summer of 2018.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner attended the signing ceremony in Hangzhou, along with members of his delegation and representatives from the Zhejiang Province government. Governor Rauner, who was on an international trade mission to China and Japan, planted a tree of friendship on the Wanxiang Polytechnic campus to commemorate the visit and send a message of good luck to the program.
Wanxiang has supported 100,000 Strong since 2012 and helped US-China Strong achieve the initiative’s goal in 2014 of seeing 100,000 US students studying in China within a five-year period. Over the past six summers, the company has sponsored 1,128 American participants who have studied abroad in China.