Guest-Teaching Chinese, and Learning America

An article in the New York Times looks at the experience of Chinese teachers who are sent to the US as part of a new government-sponsored program. Living in the Bay Area, where it seems natural to have Chinese language programs, I sometimes forget how incredible it is that places like Lawton, Oklahoma are implementing Mandarin programs in their schools. And what an odd experience it must be for the young mainland teachers to be teaching there. The article offers a glimpse:

Ms. Zheng said she spent time clearing up misconceptions about China.

“I want students to know that Chinese people are not crazy,” she said. For instance, one of her students, referring to China’s one-child-per-family population planning policy, asked whether the authorities would kill one of the babies if a Chinese couple were to have twins.

Some students were astonished to learn that Chinese people used cellphones, she said. Others thought Hong Kong was the capital.

Barry Beauchamp, the Lawton superintendent, said he was thrilled to have Ms. Zheng and two other Chinese instructors working in the district. But he said he believed that the guest teachers were learning the most from the cultural exchange.

“Part of them coming here is us indoctrinating them about our great country and our freedoms,” he said. “We’ve seen them go to church and to family reunions, country music concerts, rodeos. So it’s been interesting to see them soak up our culture.”


1 Comment

  1. Uh, this is so frustrating. As if it isn’t equally important that the U.S. teachers learn about the Chinese culture. I would think that if they think a powerhouse country as China is so backwards that they don’t have cell phones, then we’ve got some serious lack of cultural awareness going on in this country.

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