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CHRISTI EDWARDS COLUMN: A great learning experience

The Go Global NC program provided 35 teachers the opportunity to gain insight into China’s history, culture and physical environment; learn about conservation efforts to protect rare animals and environment; explore China’s educators’ use of technology in their classrooms; and study alternative education as a method of building a ready workforce.

We visited a variety of different schools: Beijing Royal School, Taziba Foreign Language Middle School, Dujiangyan Vocational High School, Sichuan Normal University and Nanjing Jin Ling Secondary Vocational School.

One takeaway from my trip was that “kids are kids…no matter where they call home”!

Christi Edwards, left, receives the gift of a mask from child named Emma during her trip to China.

I continued to think about that with each interaction with students at each of the schools. Like my own students, the Chinese students were eager to learn and full of questions. The Chinese students exhibited a great sense of pride as they shared their skills and accomplishments.

At our visit to Beijing Royal School, we were allowed to visit numerous classrooms, co-teach lessons and interact with students at lunch and during class changes. We also had the opportunity to participate in question-answer sessions with members of their board of education.

Discussions of the similarities and differences in our educational systems led to establishing goals for continued partnerships to strengthen each countries’ classroom learning environments and teacher preparation.
Chinese students realize at an early age how important their educational preparation is for their future.

Students take the gaokao at the end of their 9th grade year. The exam is considered to be the most important exam, which can make or break a young person’s future. It is also intended to level the playing field between the country’s rich and poor.

Chinese students learn as a young child to be very disciplined and study very hard to prepare for this exam. Many students go to school every Saturday to increase their chances of success on the exam.

As we traveled to Beijing, Nanjing and Chengdu we visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre, the Zhonghua Gate, the Panda Breeding and Research Center, Jinli Old Street, Qingyang Temple, the Temple of Marquis, dinner at De Zhuang Hotpot Restaurant and the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project.

These experiences brought to life the photos we have studied, providing us with a wealth of personal knowledge to take back to our classrooms.

The Great Wall was even more breathtaking than I had imagined. The details and structure of the Wall mesmerized me.

Our visit to the memorial of the victims of the Nanjing Massacre was very emotional, but one of the most memorable. We viewed room after room of books, photos and registers of the names of the victims and stories of the massacre. My heart ached for them and their families.

As I share this amazing Go Global China experience with my students, these historical sites, tourist attractions and educational facilities will all be the foundation for bringing to life China — right here in Stanly County.

I am blessed and forever grateful for The Hayes Foundation and Stanly County Schools for this opportunity.

Christi Edwards is a math teacher at West Stanly High School.