HANGZHOU, China – Rutherford County schoolchildren, parents and teachers traveled to six cities in China this summer as part of an ongoing cultural and educational exchange between the two countries organized by MTSU.
The July 7-18 trip was the third consecutive exchange between the Dongcheng Educational Group of Hangzhou Normal University and MTSU. Local students began the back-and-forth with a 2012 trip to China, then Dongcheng students visited MTSU last summer.
Students visited classrooms, participated in cultural and enrichment activities and were linked with the families of Dongcheng children for home visits.
“China was an experience of a lifetime,” said McKenzie Louis, 11, a sixth-grader at Oakland Middle School. “I learned a lot about the Chinese culture, food, family structure and schools.”
Retired Murfreesboro City Schools teacher Elizabeth McPhee, wife of MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, headed up the delegation. The first lady, along with teachers Kristy Mall and Sevon Davis-Louis, also taught a joint class for Chinese and American students, then Elizabeth McPhee held a seminar for Chinese teachers.
“It was valuable not only for Rutherford County students to learn from Chinese teachers, but also for Dongcheng faculty to see how American educators present ideas and concepts in the classroom,” said MTSU President McPhee.
The delegation also visited cultural and tourist sites in Hangzhou; Shanghai; Qiandao Lake; Jiashan and the nearby ancient town of Xitang; and Xi’an, the first capital of China and home to the Terra Cotta Warriors, a World Heritage area.
MTSU’s Confucius Institute, a joint effort between the Hangzhou and Murfreesboro universities, oversees the annual exchange. Families paid their travel expenses to and from China, but most housing and travel costs in country were covered by grants from Dongcheng and private donations.
Hanban, the international headquarters of Confucius Institute, and Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, sponsored the Xi’an trip.
“This experience has been very enlightening and I am looking forward to hosting my new friends when they visit (the United States),” McKenzie said.
— Andrew Oppmann (firstname.lastname@example.org)