Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow and China!

(photo by Scott Meltzer, winter in Beijing)

My house is covered in snow. The trees in the backyard are hanging heavy with ice and my husband Joe worked like crazy throughout the day, literally chopping it up, so we could walk down the path in the morning.

Tomorrow, it's a delayed opening at school because there are sheets of black ice there too. Our administration is worried about us falling and even recommended that we wear sneakers or safe footwear. I thought that that was really thoughtful!

But in the middle of all of this weather, I find myself thinking about China!

As part of my 2011 ATE Award, I've been invited by the NEA Foundation, the Pearson Foundation and EF to participate in a fabulous trip to the other side of the world.

All of the Teaching Excellence winners in each state were invited and next Wednesday, we'll all be gathering in Washington D.C. to learn about China's education and economic system, explore cultural norms and to discuss logistics!

China! I'm going to China! I've got the color copy of the first page of my passport all ready!

It doesn't seem possible that things I have only seen in small textbook pictures will be right in front of my eyes.

All of a sudden, I will be in the middle of thousands of Chinese people and I will be the one who doesn't understand the language, the cultural norms or deep history!

I speak Spanish fluently, so I have this knee-jerk reaction to start speaking Spanish if I am in a different country. I did that in Germany when we visited my nephew and his family in Cologne.

"Por favor, un cafe con leche," I said to the friendly blond waiter.

I caught myself, giggled and pulled out a few handy German phrases to smooth things over and be a more culturally open American.

Confession: I don't speak any Chinese. O.K. - I know how to say "hello" but that's it.

I am going to learn so much on this trip! It's a once-in-a=lifetime opportunity!

We're going at the end of June. I know three of the awardees, because they are State Affiliate teachers as well as State Teachers of the Year - Mary Pinkerston (DE), Debbie Calvino (NY) and Tom Mead (SD). Great people who will make the experience that much more wonderful for everyone!

I can't wait to meet the other winners as well. The group will represent teachers across the country. We'll be certainly transformed by the trip and in turn, we'll transform our students. We'll be living Global Education!

In my school, I've run trips abroad and have been traveling to Spain with students for many years. I've also gone to Latin America and other sites in Europe.

This will be my first time in an Asian country.

Socrates told his followers that it is a good thing to know that you don't know.

Well, I don't know. Are you listening Socrates?

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