Between 1996 and 2014, the U.S.-China Teachers Exchange Program, established with funding from the Freeman Foundation, sent American K-12 teachers to China and brought Chinese secondary school teachers to the United States. Since the program began, 116 American teachers taught in Chinese secondary schools, and 332 Chinese teachers taught in American elementary, middle, and high schools. The Chinese teachers typically spent a school year teaching Chinese language and culture or English as a second language in American schools across the country. The American teachers taught oral English in secondary schools in Chinese cities including Anqing, Beijing, Changzhou, Chengdu, Dalian, Hefei, Hohhot, Jiangdu, Luoyang, Ma’anshan, Nanjing, Shijiazhuang, Suzhou, and Yangzhou. The exchange program provided the teachers a unique opportunity to improve their own language and teaching skills; deepen their understanding of another culture; and share new curriculum, pedagogy, and experiences in their home classrooms upon their return.

In addition to the teacher exchanges themselves, we organized conferences and workshops for current participants and program “alumni” in both countries to help them form networks and enable them to share curriculum and other information for their own classrooms and with their colleagues at their home schools and districts.

Topic: 

Teaching

  • Here at the Garden School I teach a Chinese cooking class. On of my second grade students, Fiona, is especially helpful because she lived in Taiwan with her family for two years. She loves Chinese dumplings! This is a perfect Chinese dish to make with kids. After gathering together all of the ingredients, 12 students and I made over 100 dumplings! First, they chopped the vegetables and mixed the filling. Next, we filled and shaped the dumplings. Because the dumplings were all different shapes and sizes, it was very difficult to cook them perfectly. But even that was a good lesson, because I taught the students how to boil the dumplings properly.

    Once the dumplings were finished, the students ate all 100 in less than 15 minutes!! Their parents and I didn’t even get a chance to taste them! I guess they were pretty delicious.

  • Davis Burbank taught at Anqing No. 1 Middle School in Anhui Province during the 2009-2010 school year. The photos of his students above show some of their work over the year.

  • I taught my students to make paper cranes and write their best wishes on them. This is what we usually do (in China) when we give regards to good friends. Or sometimes students make cranes for teachers.

  • Students told me they wanted to learn American songs. Every week I teach them the names and locations of one or two new states, so I played “Sweet Home Alabama” as a way to introduce that state.

  • We’re also learning about regions in the United States and watching short travel commercials about Boston, Miami, Minnesota, Seattle, the Grand Canyon, and California.
    I show them six pictures of places and they have thirty seconds to come up with three descriptors for each location. At the end of the activity, they have the opportunity to share their answers with a partner.

  • Chinese Blowing Painting
    by Ms. Qin Wei
    Students: Elementary school kids and mixed high school kids

    Kids are the same no matter where they are. This week is our Chinese painting arts week. I made a PowerPoint presentation about Chinese painting art and helped the students learn how to paint bamboo with Chinese brushes. I practiced the day before and found it not very easy to do. I found some videos on how to paint the bamboo on youtube and tried to use them to help the kids to understand better. While I was doing this, one drop of ink fell on my paper. I came up with an idea as I was figuring out how to do it. When I was a child, one of my art teachers once taught us how to do the blowing painting with ink. What we did was that we created our painting work by blowing one or two drops of ink on the paper. You put one drop of ink on the paper and then you blow it in whatever direction you want. I tried it first and created a beautiful plum flower tree. Most people like to paint trees because it’s easier and every time is different. I introduced this fun activity in both schools I teach. It went very well. The students kept asking for more ink because they want to do more. Some of them even did four in a row. They had a lot of fun and their paintings are very creative.

  • Ji Min, Owasso (OK) High School, 2013-2014, taught her students vocabulary words for rooms and homes. Students then drew detailed floor plans of homes, labeling each room in Chinese and pinyin. Some even included cut-outs from magazines of pools and in-door movie theaters to add an extra element of luxury to their living spaces!

  • Ji Min, Owasso (OK) High School, 2013-2014, introduces her students to the art of Chinese calligraphy. The photos above show some of the calligraphy created by her students.

  • The other day we held a culture fair at my school. A teacher from my school invited me to set up a booth. I decided to showcase Chinese paper cutting. I think I prepared very well.

    On the day of the fair a lot of teachers and students showed interest in my booth! I taught them how to make “double-happiness” using red paper. They tried cutting and had a great time. I am very happy and honored that so many people found my display interesting.

    While at the fair I also had a chance to enjoy different cultures and foods. I tasted many different delicious things.

Learning

  • I just came back from my school's interim trip to the Florida Keys with students and five chaperons. We did algae labs and a sailing boat trip in Key West. It is a very special experience to me. I like the interim trip because it is designed to be both fun and educational. It provides the students a chance to see and experience what they have learned.

    Pan Huali taught at Saint Edward’s School in Vero Beach, FL during the 2009-10 school year.

  • The United States is a wonderful country. I do admit to myself that the average life in the United States is better than in China. You always can see the clear, blue sky. You are always in the good environment. You never need to worry about the quality of food. But I still want to go back to China. There is something special deep in my heart; China is my motherland. I do want to go back. East, west, home is the best.

    When the film crew came to interview me, I cried when they asked me about my family in China. I didn’t want to cry, but I lost control. It was hard to speak. I didn’t let my host family refer to my family, because I know if they say how much I miss my family, I will cry. I put all my emotion deep in my heart. I will be back soon. Wait for me.

    I had a great year in United States. I learned a lot here. I learned that I should be more patient with the people around me. I learned more about how to relax in my spare time instead of being busy every day. I learned more about why we teach language. No matter what language you are learning, when you go to a foreign country if you can say some words of that country, the people will treat you in a very friendly way. We use language to communicate with each other. This is the goal for all of us. I tried to learn some Spanish and French. When I use these languages, I can open my mind to see the world. It’s a wonderful world. I enjoy it.

    I tried my best to teach and demonstrate both Chinese language and culture. I taught not only my students, but also my department colleagues and my host family. They are very happy to learn Chinese. My host family loves Chinese food, too. I taught my hostess how to make dumplings. She can make dumplings all by herself now. I am so proud of her.

    I love the friendly people here. I love the delicious food here. I love how people enjoy their lives here. I will come back some years later to visit this wonderful country, of course with my family. Wait for me, U.S.A!

    Gao Yang
    John Stark Regional High School and
    Henniker Community School, New Hampshire
    2010-2011

  • I have had so many wonderful opportunities to go and do things ever since my arrival in New York City last summer! Last Friday, I went on a field trip with students from the upper division of the Garden School. We went to Fortuna Gallery at 77th Street in Manhattan and also to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I learned a lot about mosaics and works of renaissance art in Italy. Two parents were kind enough to arrange the trip for us. I had a wonderful time!

    I am also spending a lot of time helping our music teacher with the rehearsals for the school’s winter performance. It’s a lot of work, but very fun!

    I had an unforgettable experience watching The Cirque Du Soleil, Wintuk performance in Madison Square Garden on November 29th. Tomorrow, there's another show in Lincoln Centre that I’ve also been invited to! Isn't this great?!

  • The school is a great place on the weekends. Yes, there are classes taking place especially on Saturday but the campus around the school is very quiet and pleasant. Just outside the school gate, there are several million inhabitants of Anqing. The traffic here, just as any American city, is relentless and never ending. However, when one walks just inside the school grounds the entire atmosphere changes.

    There are two main apartment buildings filled with mostly retired and some working teachers. We are on the top (5th) floor and are still getting use to the climb up to our apartment. These are typical government cement structures built a long time ago and are not too pretty from the outside. However, we have a very nice apartment with lots of room and all the modern conveniences.

    You can imagine what kind of complex it takes to educate 4000+ students. This school is the size of a small US prep school. We have a huge science center, large administration building (1 principal, 4 vice principals), a huge sports complex, outdoor basketball and volleyball courts everywhere, several other classroom buildings, a large (two floors) cafeteria building serving three (tasty) meals a day and even some living quarters for many resident students.

    This is the No.1 high school in the city and there are at least a dozen. The schools are ranked according to how many students pass the rigorous national exam each year (like an SAT) and go on to the university. Our school is almost (100% pass rate) and the students are quite serious.

    Davis Burbank taught at Anqing No. 1 Middle School in Anhui Province during the 2009-10 school year.

  • My host family, the Browns, is a great family. They are very nice and helpful to me. Charles is a geologist and we are both history buffs, which makes for great conversation. We have plenty to talk about when it comes to history, religion, politics, sports, and so on. He is always adding to my vocabulary. He has already taken me to two football games. He has also made a great effort to explain the rules of football to me. While I don’t understand all of the details yet, I understood which side won! I try to help out as much as I can with work around the house. I frequently help Charles trim the hedges and mow the lawn.

    His wife, Linfei, is a Chinese American from Shanghai. Just like Wu Laoshi, she works hard in her garden every morning. She also often treats me to a home-cooked Chinese dinner.

    Their son, Roland, is brilliant and talented. He is in eleventh grade at Cascia Hall but is already taking advanced classes at Tulsa University.

    This is a great family. I think they are as happy with me as I am with them.

  • I went to attend the teacher's conference held in White Mountains last weekend. It is called exploring art in the nature. It is so wonderful. Some artists, writers like Clare Walker, storytellers like Rebecca Rule, musicians, composers, dancers went to the Crawford North and taught art or music teachers in this area about new ways in applying art in education. I enjoyed it quite a lot. I went to the workshop of a Nigerian artist and worked for him as his assistant. He taught block printing and visual art. I am happy to help him and he gave me his work of art as a gift. I also went to a workshop to learn how to compose music from the nature. Actually I don't know how to compose music but I learn how to observe. So is in the keeping a natural journal workshop.

    It is a pity that our Chinese students in my city are farther and farther away from the nature but closer to the computer games or TV or pursing higher scores and lost in exams. I think it is necessary for the teachers like me to get back to nature first and keep that in mind what is most important for our next generation. That is to create and to learn by themselves. Learning from and in the nature is a good inspiration for me from this conference.

  • My Wonderful Experiences in the United States

    1. “No standing”
    Jin Mei wants to know where the bus stop is. So one day, Mike (the husband of her first host family) took her to a bus stop. He pointed at a sign with a bus picture on it and said, “You can wait here.” Jin Mei looked at the sign and found another sign next to it. Then she said seriously: ”No, I can’t wait here; it says ‘No Standing!’” Mike laughed and explained, ”It means the cars can’t park here, but you can stand here.”

    2. “Brownie”
    Jin Mei doesn’t like American food but she likes American dessert. Her favorite dessert is called “Brownie.” Rebecca (the wife of her first host family) takes her daughter to a Brownie [meeting] every Monday. Jin Mei is so curious about that. Rebecca doesn’t often offer dessert to her 7-year-old daughter but why does she take her little girl to Brownie? One day Jin Mei asked about that and Rebecca laughed, “Brownie is the name of the Girls Scouts. The first level is called Daisy and the second level is called Brownie. It’s not dessert time.”

    3. “Ugly Betty”
    Jin Mei went to a Halloween Party with Rebecca and her daughter. She saw a big guy with two long braids and a headband. He looked so funny. Jin Mei asked: ”Are you Ugly Betty?” The poor guy got a shock but he tried to be polite, “I am not Ugly Betty. I am the head of the Grateful Dead.” “That’s a famous band when we were young,” Rebecca laughed and explained.

    Jin Mei
    Edgewood Elementary School
    New Haven, Connecticut
    (2012-2013)

  • Before I arrived in America, I heard varied opinions of American classes and kids. I felt really horrified when I thought that I had to face the challenges. It almost ruined my first ten days before the school started in Gilmore Academy. Anyhow things happened as they should happen.

    The first class seemed not as bad as I had imagined many times before. Maybe they were curious about the new appearance from China. This is the third year for my Eighth Graders to learn Chinese. I tried to add something current happening in China besides the requested curriculum. The things which I couldn’t stand were that they can freely go to the bathroom, drink water, see the nurse and whatever. Actually I didn’t like to be interrupted while teaching, but it’s allowed in American classes. I had no choice but to adapt to it.

    Here inside Gilmore Academy, what impressed me most was the Heritage Festival on October 24th. Actually it started on the night of October 23rd. It is said that more than four hundred parents, teachers and students gathered in the school cafeteria. As they tasted the real, international foods provided by school, they could also appreciate the posters presenting various food cultures from different countries. It’s a pity I was not present that night.

    The next day, I was asked to help one of my homeroom teachers. I accompanied over ten students to walk around the second floor. On the door of each classroom, the signs showed the themes of their project through which to explore different cultures. Inside each classroom, you could see different posters, in front of each poster, there were two or more students ready to explain their posters. They were about different countries, fictional stories from all over the world, games from different countries, inventions, sports and music. The school schedule gave each group a certain time in each classroom, so you could spend time learning about their projects. I learnt a lot from what the kids had researched.

    One girl told me about her picture, the ribbon indicated connection, link together, she hoped we would live in a global world; She drew doves to wish peaceful life; the cross she drew is because of her religion, she wishes the friends to be loyal, faithful to each other.

    After that, some Chinese University students on an exchange program from Bridgewater State College came to see what’s going on in Gilmore Academy. The superintendent, Dr. Nembirkow, gave us a short speech. We were surprised to hear his colorful experiences and his broad view of the world. He told us the purpose of teaching nowadays is to educate the global citizens. That’s why Gilmore Academy held the Heritage Festival. They wanted the kids to know about the world. At last, he wished us a fruitful school year.

    I do believe everybody learns a lot from the Heritage Festival, it influences us from different aspects. It promoted and celebrated international-mindedness. I look forward to experience more fresh things here.

  • Cheng Songmei, Sallisaw (OK) Public Schools, 2013-2014, discovered the true meaning of team spirit on a steamy day in August when she joined almost 70,000 other fans to brave the 102 degree heat and cheer on their favorite football team, the Arkansas Razorbacks, also known as The Hogs. Ms. Cheng joined her host family in all of the traditional game day activities including tailgating and taking along giant hog masks to wear! Now a self-described Hogs fan, Ms. Cheng has also participated in more local team spirit activities, cheering on the Sallisaw Black Diamonds, enjoying the Sallisaw marching band, and watching the crowning of the Homecoming King and Queen.

  • [T]oday is a big day for all the Americans and of course the world. We can't miss it. So at 11:30, all the faculty and the students went to the Old South church near Snowden [International School, MA] and watched the inauguration live on TV. The church was full of people, including a lot of local citizens. Some of them were formally dressed up. One black lady in a beautiful red dress said, "I have no choice. My mother let me wear this." All of the people were very excited although we were not on the spot in Washington. Obama's speech is also very powerful and inspiring. All of us hope the change will come soon…I feel very lucky to be here this year to experience all of these great and historic moments.

Celebrating

  • “It was a big challenge, as well as a pleasure, for me to plan a Chinese New Year Festival in the US. I am so glad I did it. There were 12 Chinese programs in total, in the form of 7 songs, 4 dances and 1 Kungfu performance. I felt so honored to be given the opportunity to present to my American students, colleagues, friends, and parents a wonderful Chinese program. Not only was I honored because I was presenting Chinese culture to all of them but, coincidentally, this year’s festival in my American school was held from 8:45am-2pm US central time on Jan. 30th 2014. This coincided not only with Chinese New Year’s Eve in Beijing (China), but also with China Central TV’s (CCTV) Chinese New Year Gala show (which is one of the biggest TV programs in China - the whole nation watches it at the same time).

    “I learned a great deal from preparing this year’s festival. Since I am the only Chinese teacher in my American school, it was my responsibility to consider every single detail for the festival - things like planning the program, script writing, downloading music, hosting, choosing the performers and even sewing alterations for some of the outfits. When I went to New York for the Teachers Exchange Program Mid-Year Conference, I also stopped in Chinatown to scout for suitable dresses that could not be found in Milwaukee.

    “Most importantly though, all of my students were so happy, enthusiastic and proud to show their talents and what they had learned from the past six months in my classes. They worked really hard to make the program a great success.

    “After the program, there were many congratulatory messages, but it was most heartening to hear from my students - even from my 4 and 5 year-old school kids - expressions like, ‘It was fun,’ ‘I was so excited,’ ‘I love it,’ ‘We did perfectly, didn’t we?’ and ‘When are we going to perform again?’

    “This was truly one of the most beautiful moments of my life, and I shall treasure it for a very long time indeed. Thank you to all.”

    - Sun Huijun, Academy of Accelerated Learning (WI), 2013-2014

  • One of my students gave me a beautiful gift box of mooncakes on behalf of his family.

  • It’s Chinese New Year! Well in advance I decorated my classroom with lanterns and colored streamers to make it look festive! For class I prepared many holiday related activities such as having my students make lanterns, ox masks and paper cuttings, sing holiday songs, write Chinese calligraphy, make dumplings out of play dough and then eat the fried dumplings I made. On Monday I made an announcement over the school radio; I spoke about the Chinese New Year and wished everyone the best of luck for the Year of the Ox. Afterwards many students and teachers came to tell me “Ms. Zhao, Happy Chinese New Year!” A fifth grader even came to my classroom to wish me Happy New Year in Chinese!

    On Friday our school had a Chinese New Year Parade, all of the teachers wore red and most of the students wore red as well. Students who had Chinese style clothing wore them and everyone looked very festive. The entire school was decorated with arts and crafts that the students made and the school radio even played Chinese holiday music. I was so happy and I think of this parade as a gift to me. The students wore masks, held lanterns, beat drums, and greeted me as they passed. Unfortunately I didn’t think ahead to prepare candy or festive gifts to give to the students who passed me.

  • On the first day of Chinese New Year, we had a small parade at school. We talked to some teachers the day before New Year and paraded into their classrooms including the main office on New Year's Day. We asked the students questions about Chinese New Year and handed out red envelopes to those who gave the right answers. (Actually, a few days before that we had put up posters with information about Spring Festival.) We even served them with more than 200 dumplings. The teachers and students were very excited about this; and we are greeted by a lot more smiling faces at school these days.

  • Last night there was a Holiday Party for Foreigners Working in Shijiazhuang at a hotel in a huge banquet room. It was really fun! There are 140 foreigners here from 23 countries. Different groups did little performances - singing, traditional dancing, etc. It seemed the officials had put a lot of time, effort and expense to make this a nice evening and it was.

    Robyn Crispe teaches at Shijiazhuang No. 42 Middle School.

  • From December 23, 2010 to January 2, 2011, I had my holiday recess. What impressed me most is my first Christmas Day in US and my first ski around the New Year’s Day.

    Before Christmas Day, I helped to set up Christmas lights around the house, to chop a Christmas tree and decorate it with lights and presents, to go purchasing some Christmas gifts and so on. On Christmas Eve and Day, I stayed with my host family. All my host family members and relatives, more than 20 of them, came to our house. We together celebrated the Christmas Day, talking, drinking, playing games and eating a lot of different foods. On Christmas morning, we opened the present socks and presents all the morning. I gave them something Chinese as Christmas presents and I was also given lots of presents. I really enjoy it.

    I went skiing with my host family and two other families to Breton Woods in New Hampshire. It was the first time that I had learnt to ski. I learnt so fast that after less than two hours’ lesson and practice, I can ski by myself, doing the turnings and stop. I had a lot of fun! And we also went to Mount Washington Hotel for breakfast. That’s a nice hotel with a long history and so much breathtaking scenery there.

    I really enjoy my stay here. I am so lucky that I met a lot of nice, kind and helpful people here, my host family, my superintendent Ruth, my mentor Bob and even my students are so nice. Also I have made a lot of friends here.

    Zou Zhongmin teaches at the Whitman-Hanson School District in Whitman, MA.

  • Since arriving at Sallisaw (OK) Public Schools, 2013-2014, Cheng Songmei has been introduced to several American holiday traditions and has shared with her students and colleagues the spirit of China’s holidays as well. In September, she taught students about Teacher’s Day in China and received several notes of appreciation from her students. She also helped the students create posters for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, which were hung along the school’s hallways. As the American holiday season approached, Ms. Cheng participated in some new - to her - holiday traditions – carving a jack-o-lantern on Halloween, opening gifts and celebrating with her host’s extended family during Christmas, and even taking part in an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” day!

  • The Chinese character 福, written by each of Xiong Manjing's students, was hung all over in celebration of Chinese new year. 福, which means blessing and good fortune, is widely used in China while celebrating the new year.

    Xiong Manjing is currently teaching in Owasso, OK

  • Zhang Hui, Fort Gibson (OK) Public Schools, 2013-2014, gave her students a true taste of Chinese New Year this year by making dumplings for them. In addition to giving students an opportunity to practice their chopstick skills, this lesson also taught them about the significance of eating dumplings at this time of year: shaped like ancient Chinese currency, dumplings signify wealth for the new year and are also one of northern China’s most traditional foods. In order to build up an appetite first, the students were asked to use Chinese themes to decorate the classroom, which resulted in some beautiful Chinese paper cuts and many symbols of good luck and good fortune for the coming year.

  • Feeling somewhat homesick as the Chinese New Year approached, Bai Lan, Whitman-Hanson (MA) Regional School District, 2013-2014, decided to bring China to the United States. She prepared by shopping at a nearby Asian market filled with the sights (lots of red decorations!) and sounds (Chinese New Year songs playing) of the New Year.

    “Well, in order not to feel bad about being alone in America, I tried to make myself busy. They gave me a corner in the school library to let me have a Chinese New Year section. I made a Chinese gate myself and wrote the couplets on it. I also put some money on the back of the toy horse that Wu Laoshi gave us [at the mid-year conference for Chinese teachers held in New York City in January]. Then I gave the students three days to guess the meaning of the money on horseback. I checked their answers on Thursday, and on the 31st, I told them the correct answer. The principal then helped to draw the name of one of the participants who got the correct answer. The prize was a red envelope with 50 yuan in it. He also helped draw [another] student’s name from a box. The prize was a red envelope with 20 yuan in it. Because Whitman Middle School has its own TV station, we broadcasted it live and everybody could watch it. Also, on that day, I greeted the students at the school gate, wished them Happy Chinese New Year and handed out red envelopes. The kids loved it.

    In addition, I made spring rolls for the staff on Chinese New Year, too. To tell you the truth, I had never made them in China. I got the recipe from my mom. The good news is that the spring rolls came out pretty well. They tasted really good.”

  • “This is the first time that I have been away from home during Spring Festival, but I had a very special one in America. First, there was a Chinese New Year presentation at school. This year the students and I prepared something special. Besides singing and dancing, we shot a video about how to make dumplings and fried rice. That was really fun. We played games and enjoyed the video. I also made dumplings for all the faculty and upper school students. They loved them very much. Although tired, I was also happy.

    And guess what? My host mum held a party to celebrate Chinese New Year for me. They gave me a surprise and they decorated the house in a “Chinese way” with lanterns, fans, and dragons. Even on the paper plates, cups and napkins, there were Chinese characters meaning Happy New Year. I was excited about all these things. She also invited some friends. We chatted, laughed and ate. Fun, fun, fun! By the way, they also loved the dumplings, which I made for them.

    This was one of the most unforgettable Spring Festivals of my whole life.”

    - Jiang Ye, St. Edward's School (FL), 2013-2014

Alumni Photos

Spotlight

  • Theresa Bush comes from Oklahoma, who teaches history back in the States. Last August, she came to our school, Luoyang No.2 Foreign Language School, as an exchange teacher through China-US Teachers Exchange Program. For the past 9 months, Theresa has been working with us. As a teacher, she is always professional, responsible and inspiring. She is good with our students and helpful to our teachers. She has brought with her so much American culture to share with everyone here. She helps the students to get a better understanding of the English Language as well as western culture. We feel so grateful to have her here.

    Written and presented by
    Xue Lian (TEP alum '08-'09)

  • My name is Gao Yang. I’m from Shenyang, Liaoning. I am the exchange teacher at John Stark Regional High School and Henniker Community School in New Hampshire during this school year. I’m very glad to have this opportunity to teach Chinese in the United States. It is a very special experience in my life. The education systems in China and the United States are really different, but I love teaching in both countries.

    I teach my students both Chinese language and culture. The students love both. I like to use different activities in Chinese lessons. I use flash cards, pictures, videos, crafts, etc. I use Chinese as much as possible in and out of the Chinese classroom. For the Chinese festivals, I make traditional crafts with my students. I also find every opportunity to teach students about Chinese culture. The students went to see a Chinese drumming performance in Concord, NH. The performance was from Shanxi Province in China. The students said they were so impressed after they saw the drumming. I helped the students make lanterns on Mid-autumn Festival, make Chinese and American flags on Chinese National Day, teach them about the Beijing Opera and drumming before they went to see the performance. I am trying my best to teach more Chinese to my American students.

    After class, I have a wonderful host family. Dan is a teacher in the same high school as me. Sharon is a surgeon. Jacob is nine. Evan is seven and Lena is two. I teach them some Chinese when we have time. They also love learning Chinese. I went to several places around New Hampshire. Such as the White Mountains, Boston, Plymouth, and Salem. I also went to the pumpkin festival. Over Thanksgiving I had a big dinner with my host family and my colleague and friends. The United States is such a beautiful country. I cook some Chinese food for my host family sometimes. They love the Chinese dishes very much. I love it here, and it has been a wonderful year.

    • I always feel fortunate to be here in Tulsa. Everyone is so kind to me! I am very well taken care of here. I've already made several friends. They treat me as a family member. I think when I go back to China, I'll bring back not only knowledge but also a heart filled with love. I like my students, and appreciate their efforts and progress in learning Chinese. The principal is also learning Chinese from me. I am enjoying my time here very much and will try my best to repay everyone for their kindness and friendship.”
      -- Wang Youhua, Bishop Kelley High School, OK
    • “The highlights seem to be unending. New places and experiences have become the norm. What a year! At our last English Corner meeting, the students decided they wanted to give me a real Chinese name. We came up with Wang Mingzhen. Mingzhen means dreams come true – that’s largely what teaching in China has been to me.”
      -- Christine Walderhaug, Suzhou No. 10 Middle School, Jiangsu
    • “Thank you for your program. The exchange teacher we received, Mr. Fu was a wonderful teacher… Not only did he teach, he brought with him a lot of materials and programs which we will benefit from for years in the future. The students and all the teachers really liked him and have enjoyed being with him for the past year. Mr. Fu is truly a wonderful teacher and deserves recognition. I am very happy to have worked with him, and I have learned a lot from him too. I will be very pleased if we can work with other exchange teachers from this program next year.”
      -- Tianya Zhao, Chinese Teacher, Milwaukee School of Languages, WI
    • "...[T]his was definitely one of the most educational, rewarding, and fulfilling experiences of my life so far. I wish more people would take the opportunity and the benefits from such an experience."
      -- Adrienne Fazzolara, Beijing Foreign Services Vocational Senior High School, Beijing
    • "...I have taught a different type of student and worked with a different type of faculty...All these helped me to get a better understanding of America, its history, its culture, its school system, and its people."
      -- Dong Shuhua, Kearsarge Regional High School, NH
    • “I had a wonderful year working here, and did learn a lot from the teachers. Their culture and their spirit is a great treasure for me to take back.”
      -- Xu Miaomiao, John Stark Regional High School, NH
    • “My teaching experience is excellent. Working together with the Chinese teachers on curriculum based instruction is working well for everyone involved, especially the students (the ones who count the most). I wish I could do this for several more years.”
      -- Frank Colletti, Beijing No. 14 Middle School, Beijing
    • “My American colleagues have come back from China invigorated. For a year at least they have been loved, admired, and respected. They have not only brought back more information and understanding of China into the classroom, but they more critically examine what they teach, how they teach, what should change, and appreciate more the very best things in American education. After all, learning and teaching are not one way streets. The better teachers are better because they are always learning, they take risks, and they constantly question themselves as well as their students.”
      -- Bill Bronski, Dalian No. 23 Middle School, Liaoning and Yangzhou Middle School, Jiangsu
    • “I think the most wonderful part of our exchange program is that people build their friendship and a mature understanding on different cultures and begin to appreciate some of the differences. I do hope…more teachers will be able to have this great opportunity to explore new culture, new world and…friendship.”
      -- Yang Haiyan, Belmont Public Schools, MA

Traveling

  • Over winter break I decided to take a five- day Caribbean cruise. I had such a wonderful time! It was my first time to witness sunrise and sunset at sea! The ship made several stops along the way including Grand Cayman Island and Calica, a small city in Mexico.

    After the cruise, I stayed in Tampa, Florida for a few days and also visited a few other cities including, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Orlando. In Orlando I got to visit Epcot in Walt Disney World. It was very impressive!

  • Hello, from warm Phnon Penh, Cambodia!

    Upon arriving last night, we (Jessie Koenig, Anqing 2007-08 and I) found that our reservations at a cheap hotel had not been honored. Sometimes rejection works for the better. The hotel had sounded good in the guide book but it in reality it was a dump. So we found a nicer place for $5/night each. This hotel even had A/C and cable TV with shows in English (BBC, ESPN, etc.). That’s great for me because I haven’t seen this much English TV since leaving Tulsa in August.

    So far, it has been terrific being in Cambodia. The weather is warm without being Bangkok-hot! Some of you may have been to Bangkok and know that the temperature is either hot in the cool months or hot hot hot in the summer. I expected the same situation in Cambodia but so far it is warm but bearable. Certainly the temperature is a nice break from the below-freezing-and-snow weather of Anqing.

    Today we roamed around Phnon Penh--a rather funky city. I think of Phnon Penh as a smaller version of Bangkok (minus excessive heat!): There are plenty of Buddhist temples and monks, very friendly people, slight chaos, and great food. Did I mention the friendly people?

    Interesting things about Cambodia: There are essentially two currencies here: The Cambodian Riel (4000 R to 1 U.S. $) and the U.S. dollar. Yes, ATMs spit out American money! Dollars are commonly used by everyone!

    The highlight of today for me, historically speaking, was the Toul Sleng Museum. This is the high school that Pol Pot converted in to a torture facility during the communist Khmer Rouge control of Cambodia during the 1970s. I have visited Dachau, the former German concentration camp outside of Munich and this Phnon Penh facility can rightfully take a place among the worlds' monuments dedicated to the senseless cruelty of which we humans are capable. Tomorrow we go to the "Killing Fields" for more proof that mankind has the capacity of truly ridiculous and heinous behavior when we lose our way in life and follow lies and darkness. (Watch the movie "Killing Fields" for more Hollywood info). As a history teacher, standing in the torture cells made me think of the strong connections that the atrocities around the world have had: that people can and have and still do blindly follow the commands and wishes of people who are so misguided.

    After visiting the museum, we roamed to various parts of Phnon Penh taking in sights, tastes, and sounds of an interesting country.

    The plan right now is to bus to Angkor Wat on Thursday for a three-day adventure at the largest religious site in world history. We hope to then take a boat down the Stung Sanker River to Battambang. There, we could spend the night, look around, and then return to Phnon Penh. Finally, I think we will take the $12 bus to Ho Chi Minh City on January 30.

    This part of my “China Trip” with the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations gets me excited to once again teach history in class. Although the NCUSCR is China oriented, I am grateful and thankful for the opportunity to visit this part of the world as well. I know this experience will make me a better teacher. Thomas Aquinas is to have said, "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." As small as my mind can sometimes be, in my mind I am reading a few more chapters of the world, and those chapters can only be read by being here. No movies or textbooks or lectures can give me better insight into the history and culture of Cambodia (and Vietnam).

  • Li Yuepeng took a whirlwind tour of the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and Las Vegas with his principal and host, Jerry Privett, over the Memorial Day weekend. They covered a distance of more than 2,500 miles in only three days!

    Li Yuepeng taught at Irving Middle School in Norman, OK, during the 2009-10 school-year.

  • Sanya is the "Hawaii" of Asia. The average temperature year round is around 77 degrees. There are three main beaches in Sanya: Yalong Bay, Dadonghai, and Sanyawan. Yalong is for the rich, Dadonghai, just as beautiful, white sand beaches, and Sanyawan, a little dirty but not too bad.

    Sanya is a haven for all Chinese people up north as well as the Russians during the cold winter months. It is a good place to enjoy all kinds of Western foods you have not eaten in awhile. Dadonghai beach is a great place to swim and do many other water activities. Of course you have to pay to sit in a chair, take a shower, or do just about anything.
    During the Spring Festival here in China, the prices are doubled on many things. It is very crowded and there are many foreigner visitors to Hainan(Southern Seas). You of course have to be wary of the taxis and vendors. Some taxi drivers will charge you triple. You are hounded by the vendors on the beach trying to sell you white pearls and necklaces made of seashells. After you ignore them for awhile it isn't so bad. The younger girls are taught at a young age to hustle and not take no for an answer.

    Betel nut is chewed by many locals, particularly taxi drivers and workers. It is red, and similar to chewing tobacco. You will see red stains on the sidewalks and beaches, looks like a crime scene. Seafood and fresh fruits are the specialities. The seafood is good but a little expensive. We were "Sanya'ed" a couple of times. If you have any notion of feeling sorry for someone there you will go broke very quickly.

    If you have been to Florida or Hawaii you would say Sanya beaches are second rate; I would agree. However, It is definitely paradise in China. Definitely cheaper and a great time overall. One person could easily stay there for a week for less than 800US(flying from China of course) and have a great time. We are planning on returning next year.

    Cenamon said when she needed to find me she would look down the beach or in the water for the "whitest" man and would find me. You will see what she means by the pictures.

    Rex Burnett is teaching at Hefei No. 2 Middle School in China.

Alumni

  • By Xiong Zimin
    Nanjing No. 29 Middle School
    Academy of Accelerated Learning (Milwaukee), 2001-2002

    I'm writing to you to share my happiness with you. Last weekend we had a grand and wonderful party to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1984 graduates, my first students after I graduated from Nanjing Normal University. The organizers of the party got well prepared. They invited three teachers as distinguished guests. They picked us up to take us to the hotel where the party took place. They rented a big hall, decorating one wall with a large banner with some striking characters celebrating the 30th anniversary of their graduation. They made special badges as souvenirs. Before we had dinner they presented us fresh flowers and posed for group photos. After dinner we went to a karaoke bar to sing and dance until midnight. We felt extremely flattered and deeply touched by what the students did for us.

  • Guan Yi taught at P.S. 120 in Queens, NY during the 1996-97 school year.

  • In December 2010 a group of teachers, students and parents from Saint Edward's School, Vero Beach, FL, visited Cao Wenjuan in Nanjing. They visited Cao Wenjuan’s school, Jinling Middle School and joined Cao Wenjuan and her family for dinner at their home.

    Cao Wenjuan taught at Saint Edward’s School during the 2008-09 school year.

  • Ellen Somerville
    Nanjing Foreign Language School
    2000-2001

    Where to start? The beginning? Okay, my Chinese wonder year started with a notice on a bulletin board. A year in China, why not? Normally I like to have my ducks in a row, and plans A through infinity ready to implement. I had about three minutes before my first class started and in that time I called Margot and arranged for an interview.

    Somehow all the wrangles with the NYC Board of Education, subletting my apartment and cat care got solved and before I knew it I was in Nanjing at the Foreign Language School. I laughed to myself at the first faculty meeting when I saw almost all the teachers sitting in the back of the auditorium reading newspapers, eating snacks, grading papers all through the meeting – just like home. Even the women who ran the copiers played Freecell or Solitaire – just like home.

    But, of course, not much else was just like home. I had 55-60 kids in my middle school classes. I’ll never forget the little boy who used a telescope to see the front of the classroom or the kids taking off their glasses for eye exercises. Did the exercises cause poor vision or were the glasses simply a fashion statement?

    The students and teachers were surprised to see me walking around the classroom instead of lecturing from a podium. They were also surprised that I couldn’t tolerate the constant chatter that was typical of most classrooms, but we all got used to each other soon enough.

    Some of the women faculty members met with me weekly, ostensibly to improve their English. At first we talked about education and methods and finer points of English grammar, but in a short time we were just “girlfriends” talking about what girlfriends talk about.

    I decided I would refuse no invitation that came my way, so I had lots of dinners at people’s homes. One I remember was about eight courses, ending with a Chinese style “hamburger”. I was a vegetarian in the US, but found it too difficult to maintain that diet in China, but I stayed away from meat as much as possible. Not wanting to offend my hosts who had gone to great lengths to provide what they thought I would really enjoy, I somehow got it down.

    I went to a Christmas party at a kindergarten and sang Jingle Bells several dozen times, directed a sing-a-long at a senior center (I’m sure I was the oldest person there), had a part in a made for TV movie playing Dick Castle’s wife because Peggy looked too young for the part. That was as hard to swallow as the hamburger. Then there was the time I showed up at the western bakery for breakfast three days in a row with a different young man each time. On the third day, the Chinese waitresses gave me the raised eyebrow equivalent of a high-five. The young men were colleagues who missed their mommies.

    I visited a school run by a Chinese friend’s brother-in-law and was treated like a rock star. I don’t think they had many western visitors. Many of the teachers told me that I was the first native English speaker they’d ever met. TV cameras followed me around all day and I was interviewed for the evening news. Three hundred students were chosen to have a Q&A with me and about two hundred young soldiers materialized and crowded into the auditorium. The first question was one I’d heard several times before: Does everyone in America have a gun? I don’t think they believed me when I said I’d never even touched a gun.

    I was sure that there were some average students in Nanjing, ones who didn’t come up to the standard of brilliance of the students at the FLS, and I wanted to visit their school. My Chinese colleagues didn’t seem to understand why I would want to make such a visit, but one of them agreed to arrange it for me. I spent the morning talking with the English teachers and established a special bond with one of them. He had worked in a coal mine before he became a teacher. I told him my father also worked in a mine and then became a teacher, too. We spent a lot of time boring the other teachers with our comparisons of coal mining in China and the US, but we really understood each other. Several days after the visit a colleague asked me if I had a second teaching job (which I didn’t) because he’d seen posters on the fence outside that school with my picture on them advertising the “fact” that there was a native English speaker teaching there.

    I could go on but I realize that I’ve not said much about my classroom experience, but honestly it wasn’t all that different from my teaching in the US. Middle school there was the same mixture of boys playing with matchbox cars and girls mature beyond their years. When I switched to high school the second term, the students’ English was fluent enough that they could read and discuss poems and short stories, give speeches and engage in Lincoln-Douglas debates.

    I’ve kept in touch with several of the teachers I worked with and a few students. All in all, I had a great time!

  • By Fan Hongya
    Yangzhou University Affiliated Middle School
    Snowden International School (Boston), 2000-2001

    It is indeed hard to believe that ten years have passed since we came back to China. The scene is still vivid in my mind when my wife and daughter and Principal Li and Mr. Fu were expecting me anxiously and eagerly at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. I AM FINALLY BACK. This was what I wanted to say to them when I saw them.

    What I decided to do was to get accustomed to the NEW environment, have some rest, meet friends once in a while and then try my best to get back to work. I was eager to work and meet my new students because I personally thought I mastered some advanced teaching methods or skills or strategies that I had learned from my American colleagues and I was definitely sure that my new Chinese students would be amazed by me as well as my new way of teaching. “Why do we have to put too much extra pressure on kids since they are still kids and they are humans?” That’s what Bill Bronski always says. “If kids get enough rest and have enough fun, they will probably achieve more and love study throughout their life.” That’s what Jack Regan always says. “I would like to be a teacher who assigns the least homework and encourages students to achieve the most.” That’s what I always say and do.

    Principals as well as my colleagues were more than happy to see me and they gave me a big welcome by arranging a huge banquet. We had lots of toasts and had the greatest fun that I had ever had. I am still grateful to my principals and colleagues because the welcome-back party was like welcoming a king. They really gave me more than I expected. The only thing I could do to repay them was to work hard and whole-heartedly for the school and, to be more exact, for my kids. Several colleagues attended my first lesson. Kids were wild with joy. No doubt they were charmed by my teaching. Some kids wrote articles on the Internet singing high praise for my teaching. When we had our selected course of English Culture, I got the most fans among all my English colleagues. Kids were happy to be at school, happy to learn, happy to harvest in their studies and they enjoyed their lives every day. During the mid-term and final tests, my kids got the best scores and some even made tremendous progress, much more than they had expected.

    Study is always a serious matter and it is never a joke. As time went on and as the education situation developed, more and more pressure was added and students began to suffer. “Competition is fierce. If you don’t study hard, how can you survive in the future competitive world?” “If you play with time, time will sooner or later play with you.” “If you don’t study hard to get knowledge today, you will try hard to get a job tomorrow.” That is what teachers and parents always said to kids. Time is as precious as gold. Time is as precious as life. Evening classes began in several schools, and then in all schools. Weekends were almost fully occupied as precious time to study. More and more work was assigned; more and more test papers given out; and less and less leisure time given to kids. As national tests approached, the situation became even more serious. Kids, parents, teachers, administrators, and directors of Education Bureaus were driven crazy by the competitive tests. “We have to be responsible for all the kids, for all the parents, for the society and for the development of our nation. The only way for us to survive in the future is to get as much knowledge as possible while we are young,” teachers often say to their kids.

    So what is the use of what we learned in the U.S.? Shall we follow others and put just as much pressure on those poor kids? Some say yes while some say no. Or sometimes we say yes while sometimes we say no.

    Several years ago, I did a bold experiment: when winter or summer holidays came, I said to my kids, “I will assign no homework to you during the holidays. When you are free and feel really bored by your idleness, do some English reading.” When the holidays were over, the test results proved no different from those of kids in other classes. I always believe all gold glitters so long as it is gold, but if you polish gold too much and too often, it will perish or disappear.

    During the last summer holidays, I, as an expert teacher, attended a so-called advanced class for teacher development. When a question was raised about which we should choose between quality education or examination-oriented education, Mr. Chen, former director of our provincial teaching research organization, said, “We always stand for, push and promote quality education and try to abolish examination-oriented education, but obstacles are so strong that we sometimes find it hard to walk ahead. When there is a contradiction, what we should do is hold our ground.” I couldn’t agree more.

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