Last year, Judith Harris spent a summer in China teaching criminology to police cadets at Zheijang Police University. It’s been nearly a year since the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) assistant professor of criminal justice, had seen her students, so she was understandably excited when they visited her on March 1.
Harris and other criminal justice faculty members welcomed these 15 Chinese students and their supervisor Xin “Jeff” Wang to the campus for a special lunch and tour of the University. The Zheijeng delegation was in Texas visiting Huntsville to learn about the United States corrections system and took time to visit UHD for this special reunion.
During their UHD visit, Harris’ guests visited a class led by Larry Karson, assistant professor of criminal justice, and a presentation on Zheijeng Police University. The cadets also spotlighted their institution during a luncheon with Interim President Michael A. Olivas; Barbara Belbot, chair, Criminal Justice Department; and Leigh Van Horn, interim dean, College of Public Service.
The students also visited the University’s Criminal Justice Training Center to participate in a Q&A session. Topics discussed included the differences between U.S. and Chinese police academies, varied areas of studies available to the Chinese cadets (forensics, foreign policing, SWAT), and uniforms. The cultural exchange between the Center’s cadets and Chinese guests was a high point of the visit, Harris noted.
Harris will return to Zheijeng Police University next year to teach criminology to a new group of students. She said that reconnecting with this group of students was particularly special and that international academic collaborations are invaluable to promoting cultural understanding.
“It’s an honor to be invited into this academy, and I think the Zheijeng students felt the same way about visiting our campus,” Harris said. “Seeing these students again was very emotional. It was absolutely wonderful. Next year, they will be at Zheijeng Police University while I’m there. Although I will not be one of their lecturers, I know that we built a connection that will last a very long time.”