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January 17, 2013

Chinese tour Logan schools

Delegation and schools sign agreements with hopes of creating student and teacher exchanges.

LOGANSPORT — Members of a Chinese education delegation toured Logansport schools Wednesday and signed memorandums of understanding at a dinner later that night, marking the beginning of what many are hoping will be a cultural exchange program between Logansport and Zhejiang, China.

Si Keliang, director of the International Program at Jinhua 1 High School in Zhejiang, China, spent his day touring Logansport High School, where he spoke with Principal Matt Jones about the history and makeup of the school, observed lessons and received a demonstration from the Berrybotics, Logansport High’s team of students currently developing a robot for a national competition.

Speaking through an interpreter, Keliang praised the school for what he called its advanced facilities, positive environment, responsible teachers and eager students.

“I think this school is full of energy and wisdom,” Keliang said.

The memorandums of understanding that Keliang and his colleagues signed with the Logansport Community School Corporation Wednesday night mark the beginning of what many are hoping to be an exchange program in which students and teachers in Logansport and Zhejiang can travel back and forth to study and teach.

Logansport Community School Corporation superintendent Michele Starkey said that these memorandums would represent that the participating schools in Logansport and Zhejiang agree to be sister schools, with plans to eventually establish a student and teacher exchange program. Starkey also said the process of developing the details for the student and teacher exchange programs would likely begin this fall.

When asked what he felt were the biggest differences between American schools and Chinese schools, Keliang emphasized the strictness in Chinese schools and the high expectations of teachers.

Scott Johnson, who teaches geology and astronomy at Logansport High School, said his students would be up for the challenge.

“I think it would be a challenge for them, but that’s part of the adventure,” Johnson said. “To really get the most out of that experience I think you have to immerse yourself in that different culture and understand it from the inside out and not just as an observer from the outside looking in.

“I think you have to go into it with the idea that you’re going to be living in a different culture and there will be different expectations for everyone and that would be part of the challenge, but also part of the learning,” the science teacher added.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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