Alltech China and Western Kentucky University (WKU) are proud to announce a new internship program in conjunction with the Chinese Language Flagship Program at WKU.

One of only 12 such programs in the nation, the Chinese Language Flagship Program seeks to bring students from the beginning level of Chinese proficiency to the superior level during their undergraduate career. Sponsored by The Language Flagship, an initiative of the National Security Education Program within the Defense Language and National Security Education Office, the course offers many intensive Chinese language opportunities in the U.S. and China. Now those opportunities will include internships with Alltech in China, where Alltech established business in Beijing in 1994 to serve the local feed and livestock industry.

Participating in the Alltech China internship will not only allow selected WKU students to gain hands-on experience speaking the Chinese language, but also to explore China’s unique business environment. In addition to 30 hours per week of internship responsibilities assigned by Alltech, the participants will receive 10 hours per week of one-on-one language instruction. They will also have time to explore China and further enhance their cultural competencies.

The two inaugural students are both members of the WKU Honors College for academically talented, creative and high-achieving students.

WKU junior Alexis Corbin from Lawrenceburg, Ky., is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in cultural geography and Asian religions and cultures. Corbin has volunteered at a permaculture farm in Taiwan, interned with the community garden program Top Crops, which works with the Bowling Green special needs community, and serves on the Student Government Association sustainability committee.

Megan Laffoon, WKU senior from Louisville, Ky., is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology. Laffoon, who was named a Goldwater Scholar in 2014, conducts research on the application of hugelkultur raised garden beds to karst rocky desertification topography with WKU hydrogeology professor Dr. Chris Groves and WKU biology professor Dr. Albert Meier. Laffoon has participated in a United Nations workshop on water resources and presented her research in China; she also interns with the WKU Office of Sustainability through the Project Grow program, assisting with the campus community garden.

Dr. Craig T. Cobane, chief international officer of global learning at WKU, said that the combination of excellent academic preparation, fluency in the Chinese language and the opportunity to “get their hands dirty” in their chosen profession will further enhance the students’ educations and jump-start their career trajectories as “global professionals.”

“WKU and Alltech have a long and mutually beneficial relationship,” said Cobane. “Alltech’s corporate culture of progressive and sustainable strategies is a good match for the vision of WKU and our students. Alltech, as a corporate leader in Kentucky, understands the need to ‘grow our own’ talent pool instead of relying on recruiting it from elsewhere.”

Dr. Mark Lyons, global vice president and head of greater China for Alltech, said the company was very excited to learn about the WKU Chinese language program as Alltech’s activities in China have expanded considerably in the past five years.

“Alltech has been active in the Chinese market since the mid-1980s with our own office opening here in 1994,” said Lyons. “We want to inspire more young people to experience different cultures and to decide to pursue careers in agriculture and science, and this program supports both of these initiatives. While the world has grown smaller through the development of the internet and social media, nothing replaces personal experiences and connections, and this program will help WKU students to experience the business world in China.”

Alltech and WKU have a longstanding friendship featuring many partnerships and collaborations. In addition to the new internship program, Alltech and WKU recently opened the largest brewing production facility on any university campus in the United States. The brewery will produce a beer called College Heights and will also support new undergraduate and graduate programs in brewing and distilling.