Between February 5th and the 11th our school will host a group of Chinese students. These students have traveled to the United States in order to learn about our culture and our education system. Once I heard that this group was coming, I talked to my administrators and jumped on the planning committee. Hopefully this exchange will provide a medium for great discussions with our visitors from China about their culture and education system.
Earlier this week I met with my principal, one of my assistant principals and my department head. My principal called the meeting to establish an agenda for the Chinese students’ visit. So far, the agenda for the week will go as follows (this is still subject to modification):
Monday: Meet and greet at our school. The Chinese students will then spend the day shadowing their host students in class throughout the day. The students have the evening free with their host families.
Tuesday: A group of foreign language teachers will take a break from their regular curriculum to guide discussions between the Chinese visitors and the Reading students throughout the day. In the evening, students will be encouraged to attend the school’s basketball games.
Wednesday: Chinese students will shadow their host families during the day. Students will also have the evening free with their host families.
Thursday: Chinese students will shadow their host students during the day. During the evening, a community potluck will be organized for all the host families.
Friday: Chinese students will shadow their host students during the day. In the evening, students will be encouraged to attend the school play that will open that night.
All of these events will provide wonderful opportunities for interactions between the students of the two cultures. As both of our societies become more intertwined in the coming decades, building relationships and a mutual understanding through friendly exchanges like ours will be essential to the development and progress of our two nations.
Of all the activities that our students will partake in, I am most excited for the discussions on Tuesday. The discussions and exchanges of ideas on education, culture, and teen-life in the two countries represents the most important kind of authentic learning experience that my students can have.
When isolated from other cultures, lack of understanding can lead to discrimination, fear or even hatred. Through dialogues and exchanges such as this trip, we, as educators, can remind our students that although people may live differently from us, there are several universal traits that bind us together as humans. I’m hoping that our discussions will shed some light on some of those characteristics.
We have been fortunate to have students from Spain, France and Puerto Rico come talk to our students this year. Our interactions with these groups of people have helped our characters grow as our understanding of others in the world develops. The Chinese prospective brings yet another opportunity for my students to expand their understanding of the world and the people that live in it.
30 years from now, the people that will talk in my class on February 6th could be leading our two nations. We have the opportunity to begin their dialogue. How should we start? I think I’m going to start with…