U Confucius Institute builds bridges between American and Chinese educators
Delegation meeting with Vice President of Sichuan University Dr Shi-Jing Yan
From March 8-18, the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah, in partnership with the Confucius Institute at Arizona State University, led a ten-day tour of China designed to facilitate exchange between American and Chinese educators. The U.S. delegation was made up of ten educators from Utah and 11 from Arizona, representing teachers, administrators and curriculum designers from multiple school districts in the two states. With the support of Confucius Institute Headquarters and University of Utah’s partner school Sichuan University, delegates toured schools in Shanghai and in Sichuan Province, interacted with local educators and students and explored Chinese cultural sites.
Thanks to an existing partnership between Utah School Board of Education and the Shanghai Jiading School District, delegates were able to visit four schools in Shanghai, including Shanghai Jiading No.1 High School, Shanghai Experimental School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jiading Youth Technology and Innovation Center and Jiading No. 1 High School Affiliated Primary School.
At Shanghai Jiading No.1 High School, delegates were welcomed by vice-principal Wenjie Guan, who introduced the group to the school’s mission. Delegates had a chance to tour the school’s laboratory building and interact with students who work in labs focused on different science disciplines, including artificial intelligence, 3D printing, architecture and civil engineering, applied mathematics and drone research. Students were able to use fluent English to speak with the delegation about their innovative courses and current projects.
After visiting the four campuses in Shanghai, the American teachers were impressed by the schools’ cutting-edge curriculum and innovative philosophy. As a take-away from the visit, the delegation expressed interest in continuing to forge these educational partnerships and exchanges that benefit both teachers and students.
Delegation talking with students in Jiaxiang Foreign Language School
In Sichuan Province, educators had a chance to visit the Chengdu Jiaxiang Foreign Languages School, Dujiangyan Senior High School, Beijie Foreign Language Experimental School and the post-earthquake reconstructed Yingxiu Primary School. These schools warmly welcomed the delegation and the educators were able to observe classes in calligraphy, Chinese painting and English, allowing them to get a feel for the local classroom culture and teaching style. The American teachers were then able to share video footage from the Utah Chinese Dual Language Immersion program with the local Chinese students.
Finally, the delegation visited Sichuan University where they met with Shijing Yan, vice president of the university, and Wei Gao, dean of the School of Overseas Education. Yan introduced the university’s current situation and future goals and spoke about the future of the partnership with Utah and Arizona.
To help expand the delegates’ understanding of Chinese culture, Sichuan University organized a set of cultural activities and experiences during the trip. In Shanghai, delegates explored the Shanghai Museum, Yu Gardens and the Bund before embarking on a cruise tour down the Huangpu River. In Sichuan, the delegates visited the Sichuan University Museum, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, the Sanxingdui archeological site, the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base, the Yingxiu Earthquake site and the preserved earthquake ruins of Xuankou Middle School.
Students teaching delegation to make Google Carboard Glass in Shanghai Experimental School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
The educators saw solid benefits from this tour of China – not only were they able to experience the Chinese education system, but they were also able to learn more about Chinese culture and history.
“I was so impressed with the desire the Chinese people had in sharing and collaborating with countries around the world,” said Jennifer Lemmon, 4th grade English teacher in the Chinese DLI program in Washington County School District. ”It is this attitude of learning and working together that I hope to emulate and teach back here in America. No matter our differences, we all have great things to share with each other. Staying open-minded and curious will be the way we improve and help each other to succeed.”
Since its establishment in 2007, the U’s Confucius Institute has worked to share Chinese culture with the Utah community through educational and cultural activities, and especially through the support of Utah’s Chinese Dual Language Immersion program. By facilitating this exchange and communication both in-state and overseas, the institute strengthens ties between American and China and serves as Utah’s bridge to China.