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Badger trio sees "Channel C" succcess

ChannelCFoundersby Laurie Dennis

<< Photo at right, by Cecilia Miao, is of the three Channel C founders. From right is: Muge Niu, Fangdi Pan and Cecilia Miao.>>

What started as a mutual interest in encouraging better integration of Chinese students on campus has blossomed into a YouTube success for three Badgers from China.

University of Wisconsin-Madison seniors Muge Niu, Cecilia Miao and Fangdi Pan launched “Channel C WISC” in April, and have since aired nine shows, touching on such diverse topics as how to encourage more interaction among Chinese and non-Chinese social groups, the shock of realizing one of the three victims of the Boston Marathon attack was a Chinese student at an American university, and the difficulty non-Chinese speakers have pronouncing Chinese names.

The show has garnered over 175 subscribers and some episodes have gone viral: the April 23 episode “Why Chinese students don’t speak English,” racked up over 4,500 hits. 

“We have talked a lot about how having a growing number of international students on campus should provide a unique learning opportunity for all in our campus community,” said Wisconsin China Initiative Director Nicole Huang.  “Muge, Cecilia, and Fangdi have taken cross-cultural communications into their own hands and created a model for many to follow.  Their lively, interactive forums prompt many of us, faculty, staff, and students alike, to think further of what each of us can do to make this a truly inclusive and forward-looking place. “

The three Channel C founders met at a February forum, “China in Madison/Madison in China,” hosted by the Center for the Humanities, at which several Chinese students commented on the problems they encounter trying to “fit in” to student culture at the UW-Madison.  Niu, Pan and Miao discovered that they share a similar interest in bridging the divide between Chinese and non-Chinese students on campus.

“We started the project after we realized that integration is a huge and a very common problem among Chinese international students,” Niu explained in the first show, which aired April 11.  Niu added that she wanted to move the dialogue past, “Oh, you are from China? That’s cool.”

Niu (a former staffer at the Badger Herald student newspaper) and Miao both studied journalism at UW-Madison, while  Pan’s degree is in international studies and economics.  Niu and Pan graduated in June, while Miao will graduate in December, though all three continue to work on the Channel C project.  As they worked on the project in the early spring, the trio decided that social networking sites would be the best venue for their goals.

“We thought about organizing a gathering, but we didn’t have enough time for that,” said Miao.
“And we thought making videos would be less time consuming, but that turned out to also be time consuming,” noted Pan.

Channel C has a Facebook site (“wisc.channelc”), a You Tube channel (“Channel C Wisc”), its own website (http://wischannelc.com/) an email address (wisc.channelc@gmail.com) and a logo.  The channel has the subheading of “Conversing in Two Languages” and translates all dialogue into both English and Chinese to help make it more accessible to speakers of both. 

Some shows feature the three founders talking to the camera, while others focus on interviews with various students and professors.  Channel C also makes use of skits, cartoon bubbles and humor to make gentle points about cultural differences.  An episode about pronouncing Chinese names has a white male student glancing at the camera with a panicked expression when the girl he just met says her name is Xintian. “Oh, God help me,” says the cartoon bubble above his head.

Niu, Miao and Pan are hoping that new undergraduates will be able to take over their work at Channel C and continue the discussion about erasing cultural barriers and raising awareness of international students on campus.

“It’s been a great project to work on,” said Niu.

The three founders are not the only people on campus who are hoping to see it continue.

"The Wisconsin China Initiative wholeheartedly supports their efforts," said WCI Director Huang. "We will do everything we can to get the word out, to help promote their cause, in hope that more will follow suit."

ChannelClogoChannel C Wisc shows:
April 11, “Why Chinese students choose UW-Madison.”

April 16, “Who are the Chinese ‘SGR’ (Second Generation Rich)?

April 18, “Mourning the loss of Chinese international student Lu Lingzi

April 23, “Why Chinese students don’t speak English

April 30, “Our freshman year

May 8, “Making friends

May 15, “The secret of making conversations with different people

May 29 and June 12, “ABC (American-Born Chinese) & FOB (Fresh Off the Boat)”

July 3, “Chinese names



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Click here to learn about President Obama’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China.



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Wisconsin China Initiative, Division of International Studies, 500 Lincoln Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

phone: 608.265.6640 email: ldennis@international.wisc.edu