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SMCISD Superintendent Shafer Joins Third Group of Chinese Bridge Delegates Visiting China to Promote Stateside Language Programs From school districts as diverse as Schenectady, N.Y., Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Marcos, Texas, hundreds of educators are traveling to China this summer to learn about the language and culture of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Among the delegates is San Marcos CISD Superintendent Dr. Patty Shafer.

The third annual Chinese Bridge Delegation takes place June 23-July1, 2008. More than 400 delegates – including school superintendents, principals and language instructors – are scheduled to participate in the 2008 tour. The goal of the trip, which begins in Beijing, is to build sister school ties and network with other U.S. educators who have, or hope to build, Chinese language programs in their schools. After Beijing, the delegation will fan out to visit elementary and secondary schools in 13 provinces. Ultimately, the program aspires to foster better understanding of Chinese culture and fluency in the language among U.S. students.

Shafer said, “The obvious message within the name of the program, i.e. Chinese Bridge Delegation, is that American and Chinese educators are attempting to build a link-or connection-across cultures to achieve the same goal: global instruction. It is my hope that San Marcos can establish ties with a sister school or city in China, continue to share information that will benefit all, and better prepare our local students for a global economy.”

The Chinese Bridge Delegation is just one result of a partnership formed in April 2006 between the College Board and China’s Office of Chinese Language Council International (also known as Hanban) to build and expand Chinese language programs in U.S. schools. The partnership also includes a Chinese Guest Teacher program that brings qualified language teachers from China to teach in U.S. schools. More than 100 teachers from China arrived in 2007 and were welcomed in schools and districts in 31 states. In addition, the College Board, with support from Hanban and other organizations, launched the new Advanced Placement Program® Chinese Language and Culture course and exam in 2006-07.

“In the new global community, students will need fluency in other languages and an understanding of diverse societies,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “Advances in technology offer us a great opportunity for sharing ideas and creating a better future, and I look forward to that future being made brighter by the Chinese Language and Culture Initiatives that we are building together.”

Randy Davis, principal of Grayslake Central High School in Grayslake, Ill., said of the 2007 Chinese Bridge Delegation, “It was eye-opening … It was interesting to compare and contrast the United States educational system and the Chinese educational system.” Organizers hope that delegates will return to the U.S. with increased awareness of Chinese language and culture and will provide their own students with new opportunities to learn as well.

The Chinese Bridge Delegation is sponsored by Hanban in partnership with the College Board, the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools, the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages, the National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages and Chinese Consulates in the United States.

Established by the Chinese government in 1987, Hanban is China’s official agency with a mission to promote Chinese language and culture internationally, fulfilling a function similar to that of both the U.K.’s British Council and France’s Alliance Française. For more information about these programs, visit www.collegeboard.com/k12chinese.

Delegates representing public schools and districts, independent schools, and state and local education agencies from 49 U.S. states will be participating. For a list of educators participating in the Chinese Bridge Delegation or for high-resolution photographs from the trip, e-mail Sheila Jamison at sjamison@collegeboard.org.

By IRIS CAMPBELL
Public Information Officer – San Marcos CISD

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Photo courtesy of the San Marcos CISD Public Information Office

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