Members of the VSTE Board of Directors will be taking time to periodically share their ideas and passions with the VSTE membership. In this edition, Terry Lowry from Wakefield School reports on her first day in China as part of an education delegation.
These past two days in China have been spent traveling to and visiting our sister school, Xuzhou No. 1 Middle School. The trip from Nanjing to Xuzhou was long – just over 4 hours – but I took advantage of the time to ward of jetlag and slept for most of the trip. Driving in China involves a lot of horn blowing and serious courage on behalf of the driver. I have determined that the lane dividers are really just a suggestion and by no means indicative of where one should consistently stay. I don’t think this is a distinctly Chinese characteristic – I experienced much the same thing in London last summer. In any case, I am happy to say we made it to Xuzhou safe and sound.
Upon arrival, I was graciously greeted by Grace, one of the teachers from the school, who whisked me off to my hotel. After settling in, she and one of her colleagues treated me to one of the most amazing meals I have ever had. The dishes just kept coming out and each one was wonderful! I am proud to say I did fine with the chopsticks and did not embarrass myself. I ended the day by rolling off to bed and sleeping soundly.
The highlight of my visit, though, was definitely the classroom visits I was fortunate to experience the next day. In one class, an American teacher, Kyle, was teaching the children about the US presidential election and the differences between the parties. What an amazing experience to listen to their perceptions regarding the election. They examined the experience of the two candidates and, understandably, how the election of either would affect China. In my next class, an English class, I was able to help students with their grammar assignment (it was surprisingly difficult) and then answered any questions they might have about Wakefield or the US. I think their questions were very interesting, so here are some of them (the ones I can remember, anyway)
- Are we allowed to have boyfriend/girlfriend relationships in school?
- If a student’s test scores indicate they should go to university, but he/she really wants to do something else, like be a bus driver, is that allowed in the US – would his/her parents be supportive?
- If I want to be a film maker, how can I get Americans to watch my movies?
- If a student wants to travel to the US to attend school, what is it they might have the most difficulty with?
- If Hillary or Trump won, how did I think that would affect America?
- What do American students have to do to be accepted into college?
After a morning attending classes we went to the school cantina and were joined by their school principal, Madam Chen, for another amazing meal. Everyone went out of their way to make me feel very welcome and special. Later, Grace and I explored the second campus and then took a tour of the city, the highlight of which was traveling down a willow tree lined boulevard beside an extremely large man-made lake. The rain that started couldn’t dampen my spirits but rather made the day feel fresh and new. All in all, the visit was incredibly memorable and definitely a highlight of my educational career.
Board director Terry Lowry is Director of Technology Integration and Curriculum Coordination at Wakefield School located in The Plains, Virginia. Terry serves as the chair of the VSTE Awards Committee. Find her on Twitter @tekkieteacher.