The Confucius Institute at Valparaiso University’s “2010 China Trip for US Educators and Students”, scheduled between June 28 and July 14, has come to a successful completion.
Sponsored by Hanban, organized by the CIVU, supported by Zhejiang University of Technology—Valparaiso University’s sister university, and assisted by local friends and volunteers, this China Trip achieved its purpose of providing US educators and students with a chance to communicate with their Chinese counterparts on experiences of teaching and learning, and of school management, in addition to gaining first-hand experience in Chinese culture.
This trip brought the education group to four high schools in China, namely Xuejun High School and Hangzhou No. 2 High School, both in Hangzhou, Chengtan High School in Xinchang, and Jinling High School in Nanjing. These school visits, hot as the weather was then, were very fruitful. Apart from exchanging ideas on, and experiences in, conducting teaching and learning activities, school to school cooperation was also high on the agenda, with Wheeler High School and Xuejun High School discussing the possibility of establishing a sister school relationship between them.
Alongside school visits, the members were able to get a glimpse of Chinese culture and history in their more-than-two-week stay in four cities, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Beijing, by visiting places of historical interest. Tours of attractions like the West Lake in Hangzhou, the Presidential Palace in Nanjing, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City in Beijing enabled the visitors to appreciate the beautiful scenery and the great history of China. The visit to the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, also known as Hanban, helped the visitors to view the powerhouse of Confucius Institutes and to experience Chinese culture in its Chinese Culture Exploratorium.
Whereas their visit to the 2010 Shanghai World Expo brought them to magnificent displays of mankind’s achievements across the world, their visit to the Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre led them to learn of the inhuman slaughtering of more than 300,000 Chinese civilians in six weeks by Japanese invaders after they captured Nanjing on December 13, 1937. Mr. Fujimura, who offered incense together with Prof. Liu to the victims, was amidst tears when he was embraced by Mr. Gandy, Mr. and Mrs. Warren, who were all moved into tears. “So sad,” Mr. Gandy remarked, with tears brimming his eyes.
The members also attended a lecture on “Chinese Culture and Family Life” given by Professor Liao Fei, former Dean of the College of Foreign Languages, Zhejiang University of Technology. They were engaged in a lively question-and answer-style discussion of the basic points on Chinese culture and how Chinese family life in general feels like.
Individual musical tutoring was also arranged. Two students, Daniel and Remi, were offered special opportunities to learn to play Chinese musical instruments with musicians from the Zhejiang Song and Dance Troupe.
This China Trip, besides helping to deepen understanding and initiate cooperation between people of both countries, has achieved other outcomes as well. Mrs. Ruth Warren has been offered a teaching position at Zhejiang University of Technology. She will start working there in the coming Fall semester. Hopefully, she will be able to attend the China Trip’s reunion before she leaves for China.
The group was composed of 8 high school principals and teachers and 5 university and middle school students. They were Donald Gandy (Principal, Wheeler High School); Thomas Fujimura (Executive Director), Ruth Warren (Ex-Principal), and Jesse Warren (Curriculum Facilitator), all from the South Bend Community School Corporation; Linda Woloshansky (President and CEO, the Center of Workforce Innovations); Catherine Henderson (Guidance Counselor), Clay High School; Joseph O’Hara (Educator), Thea Bowman Leadership Academy; Amanda O’Hara-Shelton (Pathologist) from Progressus Therapy; Daniel Gross and Remi Milnes, both VU students; and Deanna Kolberg, Lauren Smith and Noah Henderson, all Clay High School students. The trip was led by Professor LIU Jiangang, Associate Director of the CIVU.
The trip was greatly appreciated. Upon completion, Mr. Gandy wrote: “I have to certainly agree that this trip was ‘life changing’. There is so much that was learned in the 17 days together with the hospitality of all that were involved.” Mr. Fujimura commented in his email: “My trip to China will forever be engraved in my mind…It was well beyond my imagination and I am deeply appreciative of that.” Perhaps Mr. O'Hara’s email said it for all: “This has been a great adventure and a once in a lifetime experience.”
(Text by LIU Jiangang and HE Jun, CIVU)