"A lot of Americans are really afraid of the emerging Asian market," said Beadle. "This is an opportunity change that."
She, too, hopes to work with ancient scrolls to compare commercialism of the past to contemporary economics.
Zhang's talk on Saturday highlighted economic issues. He said China has the largest population of Internet users and cell phone subscribers and also has the fastest-growing economy of any country since 1978.
Much of this growth can be attributed to the extreme growth of urban centers and the population crises that face his native country.
"Here in the U.S., a city with a population of 500,000 is a big city, but in China it's only a medium-sized city," said Zhang.
The professor said he returns to China approximately every three years and that every time, he can't find his way home.
"The roads change and cities grow rapidly," said Zhang. "The cab driver has to tell me the way to my house."
Zhang said he hoped his lecture would also brush away some of the misunderstandings about China that stem from the Cold War.
"I hope to show both the positive and negative sides of modernization," said Zhang.
Zhang also said China's future is largely ambiguous because of the balance the country strikes between its growth and its 5,000-year history.
Zhang's research interests include modern Chinese film, pop culture and literature.
This is the second year Union Graduate College has hosted the program, and it will continue for at least two more years. Last year, 25 teachers participated, including art, social studies and English Language Arts teachers as well as media specialists.
Stephani Dimopolous, an art teacher at Scotia-Glenville High School was one of last year's participants. She says her students benefit when she teaches Asian-inspired assignments.
"These projects have ranged from landscape illustrative painting to ink character calligraphy, to the (Asian) clothing as it relates to a variety of periods and class structures,"said Dimopolous in a statement.