By JOHN T. WARD
Mario Williams was a student at Red Bank Regional a couple of years back when, on a tour of Kean University, he learned the school had a campus in mainland China. Almost immediately, he sensed that he had to go.
“I got the bug that day,” he told redbankgreen this week. Even after graduating from RBR and matriculating at the College of St. Rose in Albany, the idea stayed with him. And after transferring to Kean almost a year ago for financial reasons, “I started asking about it as soon as I got here.”
Why China? As a global business major, Williams said he finds the country’s rapid growth “mind-blowing,” and believes theres a lot to be learned from the professors, many of whom are Chinese.
“It’s just a completely different mindset,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to looking forward to “learning firsthand how things work over there, and being immersed in their culture, instead of just reading about it in a textbook.”
Last month, Williams learned he was one of a dozen Kean students selected to spend the semester that begins in January at the school’s campus in Wenzhou, in China’s southeast. The criteria included grades, letters of recommendation and more.
A native of Jamaica, Williams grew up in Detroit before returning to Red Bank, where he’d spent two years as a middle-schooler, to attend RBR, where he was a three-sport athlete: football and indoor and outdoor track. He graduated in 2014, and has worked the last couple of summers at Chapel Beach Club in Sea Bright.
David Prown, a retailer who devotes hours every day to helping disadvantaged Red Bank kids advance themselves via sports, the arts and education, took Williams under his wing to help him navigate financial aid difficulties earlier this year.
That was resolved, but Williams said that even with scholarship money and help from his family, he’s still short of covering the cost of tuition and fees, room and board, meals and textbooks for the five-month program.
Williams recently set up a GoFundMe account to raise the $3,000 he needs to make the trip happen. As of Thursday morning, he’d gotten commitments totaling $450.