Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Visit to Beijing: Needham's Partnership with the Daxing School District

Our new friends in the Daxing School District in Beijing

Over April vacation Broadmeadow Principal Emily Gaberman and I traveled to Beijing, China as part of an ongoing effort to expand our partnership with the Daxing School District in the fast growing southern part of the city.   In the last two years many Daxing students and teachers have visited the Needham Schools and stayed with local host families as we have worked to develop a relationship to benefit our schools and students.   

Our host in Beijing, Superintendent Li Da, arranged visits to several area schools where we were able to interact with students and staff and discuss educational issues, trends, and ideas important to both Chinese and American educators. 

We also discussed increasing student and teacher exchange opportunities in future years. Mitchell Principal Mike Schwinden and several members of his faculty have already taught  summer classes in Daxing, and we hope to encourage even more teaching and learning experiences for our staff and students.

We were accompanied by Dedham resident and entrepreneur Ying Liu, who also works with Boston Ivy, an organization that works with Daxing to expand and promote educational opportunities.  Our gracious and hospitable hosts in China and our excellent tour guide (and translator) Ying made the quick trip meaningful, worthwhile, and fast-paced.

What are a few of my takeaways?

•  The Chinese are eager to learn more about the American educational system and to consider new ways to organize classrooms and implement creative and useful instructional methods.
•  The students, all of whom begin learning English in Kindergarten, were keen to speak to us and practice their language skills.  (There are more Chinese speaking English in China than there are Americans speaking English in the U.S.!)
•  The students we interacted with were hardworking, playful, and determined to learn and achieve.
•  Beijing, with over 20 million people and covering over 2,400 square miles (larger than the entire state of Delaware) is pulsing with construction, movement, and new opportunities for entrepreneurs and young people.  Traffic, infrastructure, and smog, however, are immense concerns and must be addressed to sustain the city's growth.
•  Besides education, it is clear that family, food, tradition, and a reverence for the historical past are cultural touchstones for the many wonderful Beijingers we met. 

Enjoy the photos and stay tuned as we explore more learning opportunities with the Daxing School District!

One of our many visits to elementary and high
Schools in the Daxing School District

Students at the Feicuicheng Elementary
Physical education class at the Pang
Ge Zhuang Elementary School

I tried my hand at badminton (and lost…)

A street poet using a sponge to write Chinese characters

Principal Gaberman and I visiting
Tiananmen Square

My trek up to the Great Wall of China...

... My slide down from the Great Wall!

The Temple of Heaven

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