Brenau’s Newest Chinese Students Experience North Georgia Mountains

Anhui/Brenau students in Helen, Georgia
Six of the 14 tour participants in Helen

The town of Helen may not be representative of Germany, but it conveys a good sense of American hospitality for tourists. Fourteen students in the 2+2 program with Anhui University in China enjoyed a field trip to the Georgia mountains on Sept. 28, accompanied by Rudi Kiefer, professor of physical sciences and director of sustainability, Ray Tatum, vice president for enrollment management and Khalid Ibrahim, the group’s English instructor.

Sightseeing, lunch and shopping in Helen was followed by a drive to the Brasstown Bald Visitor Center. After the final half-mile walk to the observation tower, the students were stunned by the 360-degree view. “I did not know Georgia had such beautiful mountains,” said Rachel Pei. “It is incredible how far we can see from up here.”

Clear weather and temperatures in the low 80s helped compensate for the serpentine drive up the mountain, and the equally busy return route that can be a challenge for passengers in a packed van. “They were singing Chinese songs in the van most of the time. I don’t know what the words were, but they were having a good time,” Kiefer said. “Conversations were mostly in support of the students’ growing English skills, but I couldn’t resist adding some information about how these valleys formed, and pointing out the floodplains at the bottom.”

Students learned quickly that Brenau is a household name even on Georgia’s tallest mountaintop. A chance encounter at 4,786 ft. elevation with Hanna Hamline,WC’96,  presented a photo opportunity, joining an alumna and 1990’s gallery assistant with Brenau’s newest student group. More excitement is sure to be in store for the group as they spend the next few semesters at the university.