Our final moments in our Pre-Departure orientation included a wonderful dinner at a local Chinese restaurant and smiles surrounded us as we shared the excitement for the adventures to come.
On July 3, the Fulbright-Hays Seminar group left San Francisco for our fist stop in Beijing, China.
Let the adventures begin...
Our per-departure orientation has been filled with an enormous amount of information in a few short days.Sessions on Chinese Language, Chinese History by Stanford Professor Dr. Sommer, The Economics of the Chines Middle Class by Mr. Michael McCune, discussions about Modern Chines Society by Dr. Matthew Kohrman among others. Each day is a continuous stream of information and I am sure the coming month will be filled with unique observations, discussions and experiences. The time has come to pack up and journey to China!
Here we go...
Information about the adventure from the National Committee on Unite States-China Relations, the United States Department of Education and the China Education Association of International Exchange:
The Fulbright-Hays Seminar Abroad History and Culture in China program will examine the country's fascinating past, complex present, and challenging future. The itinerary includes four cities chosen to illustrate different aspects of China. In each place the program features lectures and complementary site visits. An optional visit to Hong Kong supported by the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office offers a glimpse of one of China's two special administrative regions.
Day 2 of Pre Departure Orientation:
Our days here at the Vallobrosa Center in California are packed with information, introductions and preparations for our departure to China. The group of educators selected is inspiring and will make for interesting conversations and insight throughout our adventures together.
Introducing my traveling companions:
Roxanne Binaso- Middle School English teacher at the East-West School of International Studies in New York City. A native New Yorker, she is passionate about eliminating the achievement gap by providing multiple entry points for all of her students.
Jennifer Borman- The head of school at School One in Providence, Rhode Island, since 2007. School One is a small, arts-intensive, college preparatory high school serving a diverse array of students, 10% of whom are from China.
Xinjie Ding- An educator in Chicago Public Schools and a National Board Certified library media specialist. Xinjie focuses his efforts on integrating education technology into school curricula and implementing multimedia programs to promote effective learning.
Erin Dowding- An ESL through humanities teacher and the college and career counselor at Flushing International High School- a small, project-based school in Queens, New York.
Michael Eisenberg- Teaches music and French and serves as head of the arts department at the Veritas Academy, a New York City Renzulli-design high school for the talented and gifted. He also teaches music at the Queens High School for Language Studies, a bilingual Mandarin-English high school program.
Angela Fremont-Appel- A painter and ceramic artist who has been teaching art to children in New York City public schools for the past 23 years. She is the founder fo the internationally recognized program Materials for the Arts, and has had numerous fellowships and artist residencies in both the United States and Europe.
Aura Highsmith- A professional artist for 16 years through her roles as an art teacher, muralist, illustrator, and photographer. Aura teachers grades K-8 at the Dr. E. Alma Flagg School and uses every opportunity to emphasize global education as a fundamental necessity to help her students view the world as accessible and a valuable part of their daily lives.
Roberta Jacoby- A fifth and sixth grade challenge consultant, helping students to enrich and extend their regular curriculum. She works both with students who have gifted individual educational plans as well as with the overall student population. Roberta uses literature, art, music and the outside-the-classroom experience to extend her student's knowledge to the world.
Paul Kaliszewski- A sixth grade global studies teacher at Cranbrook Kingswood Boys Middle School, a private school in the northern suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. He has been teaching for 10 years, utilizing his summers to immerse himself in the cultures that he teaches, travelling to Russia, Korea, and Chile.
Thomas Kenning- A middle school social studies teacher at Plato Academy Clearwater in Florida. He has 10 years of teaching experience across a variety of educational levels, ranging from preschool through university. His primary professional passion is to develop courses of study that excite students about the world while also challenging their basic assumptions about their place in it.
Ericka Lopez- An ESL teacher in Rochester, New York. She teaches students in grades K-6 at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School. Her students are resettled refugees from all over the world, including Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Yemen, Somalia and Cuba, as well as migrants from Puerto Rico.
Juana (Janie) Melendez- A reading intervention specialist at Valley View Independent School District, located in the southernmost tip of Texas near Reynosoa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. 98% of the student body is Latinoa and has limited English proficiency; many come from impoverished backgrounds.
Kyle Schwartz- A literacy teacher at Doull Elementary in Denver, Colorado. Kyle differentiates lessons based on students' language skills. Recently, a simple yet powerful lesson created in Kyle's classroom received international attention. She asked her students to finish the sentence "I wish my teacher knew_." and her students' candid and pignant responses inspired the #Iwishmyteacherknew movement.
Tara Seekins- Assistand head of school at Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito, California. After graduating with high honors from Smith College and completing an MA in English at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Tara joined Teach fro America and taught fourth grade for four wonderful years. She holds elementary and secondary teaching credentials and is National Board Cerified in English language development.
Cholehna Weaver- A 6th grade social studies world geography teacher at Ocean City Intermediate School in Ocean City, New Jersey, where she also serves as the yearbook advisor and an accompanist for the school choir. Her experience with SmartBoard technology and Web 2.0 tools in the classroom led her to develop related training for staff.
Stanley Rosen- A professor of political science at the University of Southern California, specializing in Chinese politics and society. His courses range from Chinese politics and Chinese film to political change in Asia, East Asian societies, comparative politics, and politics and film in comparative perspective.The author or editor of eight books and many articles on China, Dr. Rosen is also the co-editor of Chinese Education and Society.
I would like to thank the National Committee on United States-China Relations, the US Department of Education, and the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Chinese Education Association for International Exchange for the opportunity! So many people have worked very hard to make this trip possible including Ms. Margot Landman (Senior Director for Educational Programs NCUSCR), Ms Amy Saltzman (Program Officer, NCUSCR), Ms. Maria Chang (Program Officer, International and Foeign Language Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, US Department of Education).
The airport offered free coffee and off I flew to DC to catch a connecting flight. I had a long layover in DC which offered time to put my foot up (broken last month) and call my family. A kind gentleman from South Africa and we had a nice chat. He prayed over my foot and I have to admit that within minutes the pain and swelling lessened. (Blessing) I love traveling and people watching when you can meet and interact with such diverse people. Little moments of conversation waiting for a plane can really be interesting.
My flight to San Francisco was on time and I had a window seat! I was able to capture a few glimpses of the country below once the cloud cover diminished around Colorado. (Granted I may have slipped in about an hour of shut eye!)
Arriving in San Francisco I was starting to feel the hours of travel and the need for a nap. I got a message on my cell that my checked bag arrived on an earlier flight (wish I had been on that flight!). I sadly had an fall on my sore foot in the bathroom where I smashed my phone screen in my backpack. Ugh. My mind was reeling on how to fix it prior to China as I made my way to the baggage claim area to claim my luggage and meet some of the other travelers. The young lady from New York who is our US-China relations contact meet me with a smile at the baggage area. My first meetings were sadly a bit distracted as I quickly searched through cracked glass to find a way to repair my phone. Gradually our departure group to head to the Vallombrosa Retreat Center and our orientation location all arrived and off we went! During the transport I was able to contact ICracked.com to get repair service to drive to meet me at the center and they arrived later that evening. (Whew.)
The Vallombrosa center is beautiful! We checked in and I was able walk around some of the gardens for a few minutes. Our agenda for the evening started at 5pm with a Reception followed by dinner at 6pm. (My phone was able to be repaired during the reception in about 30 minutes!) We had an initial group orientation at 7pm where we were reunited with our passport that included my Chinese Visa. People this is REALLY happening! The night concluded with the movie "Please Vote for Me" (watch it- great documentary showing kids learning about democracy). After 22 hours of travel sleep called to be ready for day two of learning!