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Spiritual lesson becomes an educational journey

What started as a calming exercise later expanded into a research project for USF assistant professor Lisa-Anne Culp. Five years ago, Culp attended Tai Chi lessons for spiritual and physical health and took an interest in studying Asian cultures.

Now Culp, who works in the English department at the St. Petersburg campus, will have a month to spend in China to examine the culture and writing styles in hopes of writing a textbook.

Culp is one of 16 people selected for a Fulbright-Hays Seminar Abroad Program. Because Culp completed her Ph.D. in English as a Second Language, she plans to meet with Chinese students, who are studying English and who are planning to travel to the United States, in an effort to write a business-writing textbook.

“A lot of textbooks talk superficially about business in that they don’t get into the cultural aspects,” Culp said. “They don’t really get into why people do what they do; as a teacher of communication, it is important to understand the culture.”

Culp said while conducting research for the book it will also be important for her to understand the culture’s writing style and then make readers understand more about the cultural beliefs. By writing a textbook based on these findings, she wants readers to also understand the writing styles of students who practice English as a second language on a social and cultural level.

“With second-language students, many students from Asia are taught to be part of a group, so when a teacher says I want to see you in a paper they think differently because they have always associated themselves with a group,” Culp said. “Knowing this information is valuable.”

The seminar’s itinerary plans for Culp to travel to Shanghi, Shengdu or Chongqing, Xi’an, Bejing and possibly Hong Kong.

“This is a chance to go see the real China and (its) culture instead of reading about it in books,” Culp said.

According to Culp, Asian students make up the second largest population of international students at USF. With this in mind, Culp said as an instructor she wanted to learn more about the culture and how Asians view education in the United States. Culp said she plans to meet with Chinese students who plan to study abroad in the United States.

“By exposing yourself to another culture, you’re able to step back and look at your country from another perspective,” Culp said.