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Stone completes Monmouth education with challenging internship in China

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Shayne Stone was among the 285 members of Monmouth College’s Class of 2017 to receive a diploma in May, but the exercise science and biopsychology major still had an important requirement to fulfill after commencement – his capstone internship.

Stone returned to his native China to take part in a challenging program that sharpened his skills while exposing him to a different culture.

“I wanted to learn what I used at Monmouth College to help children in China,” said Stone, who was adopted from China at an early age and grew up in the United States.

During his 10-week internship, Stone lived in two drastically different parts of China – the small town of Yangshuo in the Guanxi Province and the resort town of Sanya on Hainan Island.

In Yangshuo, Stone took three hours of Mandarin per day for a month while living and sharing traditional meals with a Chinese family. Much of the rest of his time there was spent in “outdoor education” provided by the Karstaway organization, working on such activities as caving, ziplining and kayaking.

Karstaway calls itself “an experiential education organization that offers a wide variety of programs for all ages, abilities and aspirations ... providing individuals with the skills to thrive in the 21st century.”

“In China, it’s very important to build personal strength and, especially, confidence,” said Stone.

In Sanya, Stone worked with special needs children at a center run by The Bright Connection. He immediately observed a dramatically different approach that Chinese society employs in raising such children, compared to methods used in the United States.

“It was emotionally taxing watching them try to get kids with cerebral palsy to walk,” said Stone, who reported on other differences during his internship presentation last week with Monmouth faculty. “It was hard to see as Westerners.”

But there were also rewarding experiences, such as his work with a student he called “Bengie.” (Stone gave the children English nicknames because he had difficulty pronouncing their Chinese names).

“Bengie didn’t know how to walk,” said Stone. “I worked with him on standing up and walking. On the last day I was there, they couldn’t find him. They were saying, ‘Where’s Bengie?’ He had gotten up and walked to a corner and was looking out the window.”

Stone also helped a teenager he called “Johnny” learn how to add and subtract, and he also pushed for an opportunity “to take the kids to the pool.”

“It was hard to work out, but we were able to take six of them there,” said Stone. “I saw them all smile, and you rarely see them smile.”

Stone left the staff in Sanya with a range-of-motion progress chart to help them document successes, as well as a “Physical Exercise 101 chart.”

“I could not have completed this rewarding internship without my education and connections at Monmouth,” said Stone. “When I worked as a tour guide on campus, I would say the best part of Monmouth is the connections with the professors. This remained true throughout my internship, and once I came back to school during my recent visit.”

Stone said the work he did in China for Karstaway and The Bright Connection reinforced what he wants to accomplish in his post-Monmouth life.

“I want to continue working with kids with special needs,” he said. “I want to help them with cognitive rehab, and then with physical rehab, which helps them more in life.”