Published on May 9th, 2012 | by Charitarian3
Teacher’s Cultural Exchange Program April 2012
When Mr. Wang spoke in New York last November the topic of his talk was “Second Generation Rich, Second Generation Poor, Second Generation Official in China.” Social immobility was the theme. Disparity in quality of education the cause. In answer to the issue, Charitarian run a cultural exchange program between teachers from rural China and those in British School Beijing. The third of such programs took place from April 14th to April 22nd. As with any sustainable philanthropic program in China a number of stakeholders were involved. The program is ‘owned’ by Wuxun Foundation, which is a Government registered NGO from Shandong; Wuxun was a famous educator in the footsteps of Confucius. Wuxun Foundation have contracted Charitarian to execute the program in Beijing. Corporate stakeholders such as British School Beijing (who host the teachers and largely fund the program) and DLA Piper, Beijing 1421 Consultancy, Nike and Schlindwein Associates provide bilingual volunteers and sponsor the provision of suits, teaching resources, logistics and accommodation.
The program is aimed at teachers such as Mr. An. A senior teacher in Shandong with twenty years of experience, he joins the program to share learning about how best to motivate children, teach English as a second language, advise on careers and manage discipline problems. Mr. An has 80 children in his class in Shandong. The teachers at the British School average about 15. Mr. An exchanges ideas with the international teachers so that each group can better understand the conditions under which the other operates. As well as professional development in a cosmopolitan environment, Mr. An is able to make friends with teaching peers from across the country; teachers form Gansu, Henan, Hunan, Anhui and Chongqing as well as Shandong attended the latest program. On the final day the teachers visited the Summer palace and the Great Wall. As well as a learning experience, the Teacher’s Cultural Exchange is meant to provide a bit of a break from the hectic demands of the classroom. All teachers are hosted throughout the week at Yosemite hotel in Shunyi.
This program is unique in China and is well received by the Party officials who attend with the teachers. We have been asked to host a new group of teachers in Beijing in July and in Pyongyang in the imminent future. As a volunteer on the program I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the teachers and have been to visit some of them in their schools back in Shandong. During the most recent program we taught a class on how to use art to stimulate conversation in a second language. Contrasting an LS Lowry industrial revolution painting of crowded factory workers with a delicate portrait of a wealthy lady, one of the visiting teachers said “we cannot even see the faces properly of the factory workers, but we can see the contour of the cheek and the shape of the eyes of the aristocratic lady. Mr. An commented that the polluted skies above the factory reminded him of his home town today. The Program provides a fresh environment for fresh thinking. Second generation rural children will remain the faceless poor if we do not paint a more inspiring picture for their teachers.