It's a Small World After All
Posted by Diane Hale on 3/21/2019
It's a Small World Afterall
I had the opportunity of a lifetime over this Spring Break. I got to go to China with a group of other school and district adminisrators from around the United States. The trip was intended to share the Chinese culture with administrators who have Mandarin Language programs in their schools.
Traveling to the other side of the world opened my eyes to a different culture, my taste buds to different foods, and provided me an historical perspective that can only come from learning about a country with a 5,000-year-old history. Ultimately however, I came to realize that educators, no matter where they live, share similar values and share a strong desire to build a future through the teaching of the next generation.
We visited museums, the Giant Panda Research Base and spent hours walking through narrow alleys filled with smells of unique foods and spices and gifts only found in this part of the world. It was an experience for the senses! I found it very heart-warming to see how proud the residence of every city we visited were of their home. That seems to be a theme throughout the Chinese culture. Rather than keeping the unique treasures of this country and culture a secret, the Chinese are proud to share their treasures with the world and show pride in all that is their culture.
My favorite take-away of the entire experience, however was getting to enjoy the kindred spirit of educators. First of all, meeting other principals, district leaders, and teachers from other districts gave me the opportunity to make several connections. I wasn’t surprised, but was delighted as usual to connect with other professionals who share my values for the importance of educating a generation about other cultures, and teaching the gift of language. We were all equally excited to visit schools and see children. After a visit to a local school, I'd look around at my fellow travelers and see the satisfied smile of educators. There is something special about a school when you carry a deep love of learning and teaching in your heart.
Meeting educators from the Chinese schools, however really solidified that educators are special people – no matter where they live. We heard principals talk about how they want their students to be academically successful, but also to build strong character and lead happy lives. We saw signs on school walls declaring that the school was a place for children to be nurtured and cared for, not just taught. When I complimented an English teacher after watching her class, she of course, gave credit to her hard-working students. Teachers were proud to show off the skills of their students and didn't just teach the basics. They reminded students to put on their coats and encouraged them to have fun at recess. They shared concerns about teaching social and emotional skills and "good character". Finally, the evidence that education speaks a common language was in the children. They groaned about homework, laughed with their friends, loved their teachers, were eager to show what they’ve learned, and ran in the hallways despite reminders to walk. These observations made me smile. As educators, we all want the same things for our schools. We want them to be a place for children to grow and learn and to feel good about themselves in the process, and our students are more similar than different because kids are kids. When we have the same goals for our future generations, the world becomes a smaller place.