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US-based educational leaders learn about Chinese schools / by Wendy Lu, July 8, 2014 Adjust font size:

For the kids

On Friday, their fifth and last day in Beijing, the "Discover China" delegation took a tour of Beijing International Arts School, where SLB is hosting this year's Youth Chinese Immersion Summer Camp.

This is the 11th year that SLB has hosted summer camps and leadership programs for youth from different countries, Yu said. Previous summer program locations have included Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), Tsinghua University and Minzu University of China.

"They've seen the best schools in town," said Yu of the group's trip around the city. "We want to provide them with a full picture of the schools in Beijing."

Beijing International Arts School was their last stop for "Discover China." Before checking out the school's dormitory rooms, the delegates visited one SLB advanced language class comprised of four high school students from southern California who began the summer camp in mid-June.

After introducing themselves, the students gave a rundown of their day-to-day life in Beijing. In addition to Chinese language courses, they also take cultural classes like brush painting and tai chi.

Ophir Gilad, 17, an SLB student who is staying with a host family for the summer and has been studying Chinese for the last three years, said she signed up for the immersion program because she wanted to learn more about Chinese culture while also improving her Mandarin.

Delegates also got the opportunity to ask the campers questions about their experiences and differences they have seen between Chinese and American students.

"There is a lot more pressure on all the kids here," said Orli Ziv, 17, echoing Beckford's sentiments. "It's less about their ideas and aspirations, and more about memorizing, learning and getting good grades."

Bringing lessons home

These are the kinds of Chinese cultural exchange programs that the delegates are hoping to launch back home, in addition to Mandarin classes, said Chuck Woodruff, COO of the American Association of School Administrators.

"My school offers Chinese, and we're interested in adding exchange programs. We already have one for Germany," said Judith Grow, a program delegate and supervisor at Lenape Valley Regional High School in New Jersey. She added that Chinese culture has become of great interest to Americans and that many schools in the United States offer or are starting to offer Mandarin.

All of the delegates said they believe cross-cultural education and collaboration is important for the economic future of youth not only in China and the United States, but also around the world. Business opportunities, work skills and cultural harmony are just a few of the benefits that people of all ages in society receive from global education partnerships. "Teaching is one of the areas where you can influence the future for generations to come," Crowe said.

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