About the China Exchange Initiative

As part of the U.S. - China Exchange Initiative, Dr. Saylor was one of nine administrators from Pennsylvania that traveled to China in April 2011. Dr. Saylor's partner administrator, Ms. Zhao Hong, visited the United States and spent time in the Wilson School District in the fall of 2010. The goal of the budding friendship and partnership between the two educational systems is to provide opportunity for collaborative learning experiences for students from both countries and to enhance the instructional practice of teachers from both educational systems. To share Dr. Saylor's experiences in China, read the posts below. To learn more about the China Exchange Initiative (CEI), please go to: CEI For information about current (and past) participants click on: Shadowing Project

Friday, May 6, 2011

This I believe...

Update (1/27/2012) - communication has been limited since my return; we've been unable to discern why.  However, in the interim while the CEI looks into the disconnect, working in partnership with another school in Hebei as well as the Schuylkill Valley SD, we've aranged for our first student exchange.   Students from China spent time with our students and students from other districts wthin our county in November.  Later this spring, 12 students from Wilson, along with approximately 12 other high school students from across Berks County, will travel to the Hebei Province and spend time in the homes of their counterparts, attend school with them, and be immersed in the colorful and rich culture that is China.  I can't wait to hear their experiences!

April 2011 - First a note to all my followers and those who happened by, this has been an amazing experience and I hope you enjoyed the journey. I know that the decisions I make and the way I view the world will be very different from what they were in the past and the lenses I look through will never be the same. Please enjoy the pictures! If an explanation of anything you see is required, do not hesitate to contact me. There are a lot of pictures to look at, some need no explanation, others might! :) When I get time to add the pictures to an online album, I'll share that site with you too, through this blog, but that may be awhile. I'd like to end, at least this part of our journey with a little summary, of what I will carry with me...

What I believe…
I believe the Chinese people are a kind and gracious people, proud yet humble. Their children are their future and as such they protect them, push them, and hold them like there is no tomorrow – because, for some, there isn’t.
I believe there is great disparity in China; it is a country of haves and have nots far beyond what we see in America. Yet, I believe, there are some that are truly trying to close the gaps; however, the shear masses impose a challenge that few will overcome.
I believe that China is trying to create balance between a long and rich tradition – a history filled with triumph and despair, change and status quo – and reform and progress, and a culture that both can be their deliverance and their greatest obstacle.
I believe they are trying to find their way within a world that knows isolation but wants global acceptance and collaboration. I believe they are learning through imitation, but once they move through this phase and become more comfortable with risk, China will explode with innovation. I believe they are on the cusp…
I believe, with China’s push for reform, at least within the Hebei Province, our children have opportunity to learn alongside their Chinese counterparts and work together to make the world a better place for all.
Through this visit, we have begun to flesh out ideas for supporting the village school near Xi’an. Working with our IU we will seek ways to share our expertise and resources and here at Wilson integrate this challenge into our Global Academy and engage opportunities for our students to be part of the process.
Additionally, our teachers will have opportunity to share pedagogy, ideas, and practice with our partner (sister school(s)). They will have opportunity to visit each other’s classrooms (virtually and physically) and move best practices forward. Together with our partner school, we have set the date for our first exchange. Our goal is to host students and teachers from Shijiazhuang in August/September 2012. They will join us for our first week of school and see how we begin our year; experience our routines, our opening practices, and get a glimpse of our pedagogy, stay with Wilson host families. Perhaps, too, their teachers will have opportunity to see some of our professional development. In late October, early November, of 2012, we will send our first contingency to China. Our students and teachers will visit Beijing; they will spend a week in our partner school, stay with host families, and experience the culture and education that is Shijiazhuang No. 2 Middle School(s). In the interim, we will set up email and virtual links between our students and teachers so they can get to know each other, share ideas, and work collaboratively where opportunities exist.
This is our goal – this, I believe, is only our beginning…

The long walk - and, home...

Day 17 – April 23
On our last full day in Shanghai (which I must say is a very cosmopolitan setting with a European flare and amazing architectural contrast of old and new…) we had time to shop (see the link below), tour the city, and visit a museum.
During our shopping we spent quite a bit of time in a small shop tasting the various teas and conversing with the shop keeper. Let’s just say we brought home a large variety of Chinese teas! A few of us chose to walk back to the hotel. We had been told that the area we were shopping in (and note, Shanghai is known internationally for shopping) was only about 3 kilometers from our hotel and the walk would take us along the water and through a pedestrian street populated with more engaging shops and little cafes. Well it did, and we had the opportunity to listen to street musicians, and see the bustle of the city – BUT, it was more than 3 kilometers. 2 ½ hours later, laden with our packages and shopping bags, we drug ourselves up the hotel steps. With just minutes before our last dinner together, we made the quickest changes imaginable – and enjoyed a quiet traditional hot pot meal with our colleagues. Later that evening we wondered down to the waterfront to see the skyline at night - the boats were lit up, the decks and masts trimmed out with lights, and the buildings sparkled with color. We had learned our lesson though - we took a cab (smile).
Find more information about shopping in Shanghai here: http://www.orientaltravel.com/China/Shanghai/Shopping.htm

Day 18 – April 24
We spent several hours packing the night before, weighing, readjusting, and reweighing our baggage to make sure we made the international weight limits, so we ended up sleeping in later than we usually do – however, after a late breakfast, Leah and I headed out to the streets to check out the local market, watch people exercising on the square, and to take in our last snapshot of early morning life before flying home.