Illinois Educators’ Trip to China

by Leanne Zeng  /   Jul 1, 2017

A delegation consisting of 7 members from central Illinois schools paid a 10-day visit to China in June (2017), which was sponsored by the Confucius Institute at UIUC (CI-UIUC), Jiangxi Normal University and the Chinese Testing International. Their time in China was split between Beijing, the Capital of China, and Jiangxi Province, located in South Central China.

The CI-UIUC delegation visited the Imperial Palace on June 20, 2017_

        This trip was led by Prof. Jian Zhang, the deputy director of the CI -UIUC. A group of central Illinois educators, including two principals and a Chinese teacher from Illinois State University lab schools, two principals from Tuscola School District, and a social studies teacher from Fisher Junior/Senior High School were on the trip. Many of them were visiting China for the first time.

        The main purpose of this trip was to promote educational and cultural exchanges between China and the United States. This goal was achieved by visits to Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, Chinese Testing International, Jiangxi Normal University and its affiliated schools in Nanchang, Jiangxi. These visits allowed the Illinois delegation members to explore the Chinese Culture Experience Center in Hanban,andto attend classes  in Chinese schools and observed how teaching was conducted in China. The Illinois and local Chinese educators exchanged ideas on educational methodologies and practices in the two countries and explored possible future collaborations.

The CI-UIUC delegation visited Chinese Testing International on June 19, 2017_

        The delegates also had a memorable cultural tour during their trip in China.  In between the educational activities that they attended, they visited some well-known historical sites in Beijing and Jiangxi, including the Forbidden City in Beijing and Jingdezhen, a town known as “Procelain Capital” in Jiangxi. These visits have facilitated a better understanding of China, including its culture and education, among the delegation members, which lays a foundation for more cultural exchanges in the future.        

 

The CI-UIUC delegation practised DIY in a workshop in Jingdezhen on June 24, 2017

        The Illinois educators shared their reflections on this trip in their summaries  . “As I reflect back on my time in China, the most important part of the trip to me was the hospitality of the people and the generosity that we experienced,” concluded Amy Fritson Coffman, principal of Thomas Metcalf Lab School in Bloomington. Carol Munson, principal of East Prairie Middle School in Tuscola commented that “this trip and being part of this delegation was not only enlightening but very life changing in that it has greatly expanded my world view.” After observing an English class at the High School attached to Jiangxi Normal University, one of the delegates said “this is nothing like what I read about Chinese education!”  Jason Wallace, principal of North Ward Elementary School in Tuscola, remarked “this visit helps me to understand the Chinese people and dispel any stereotypes that are pervasive in American culture about the Chinese.”  “Now as I teach about the Great Wall, The Forbidden City, and all of the other great places we visited, I will be able to bring my personal experiences into play,” wrote Robert Lindsay, a Social Studies teacher at Fisher Jr./Sr. High School.  Lin Lin, the Mandarin teacher at Thomas Metcalf Lab School, summarizes in her report that “this trip was a very worthwhile experience for me and for our delegation. We learned about education in China, learned about the history and culture of China, and made contacts with educators and others with whom we might build future relationships and programs.”

        Given their positive feedback, this delegation has achieved its original purpose, that is, to facilitate educational and cultural exchanges between China and US. 

 

The CI-UIUC delegation visited the Great Wall in Beijing_