Hawaii Global Links Newsletter
Opening Doors to China and Taiwan
Monday, 12 May 2008

Chairman Mao gazed down on fourteen teachers from Hawaii who were huddled together for a photo in the middle of Tiananmen Square.

On this cold, winter day, their warm smiles reflected the fact that this was the learning adventure of a lifetime.  

The teachers were part of the Teacher Travel Program, which was established by the Pacific & Asian Affairs Council and funded by DBEDT.  They were taking advantage of an opportunity to gain global understanding through school excursions, study abroad, online sister school relationships and exchange programs.  After having survived a rigorous selection process, they were half-way through an odyssey that had taken them to Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan, with Shanghai, Suzhou and Hong Kong ahead. 

Gabrielle Finn a Windward District resource teacher, with
 a student from the Beijing Foreign Language University's
attached elementary school.

Executive Director Alex Lei in Taiwan and his assistant Joy Hsu, and Executive Director Bo Wu in Beijing and his assistant Niki Shishido, played a key role in establishing their itinerary.  Travel took place from March 16 to 30.   

The Program was established to “open doors” to Asian countries and transform Hawaii teachers’ classrooms when they return to the Islands.  And what better way to open those doors then to give the educators a “hands on” experience? 

This was no sight-seeing tour.  The teachers met with their counterparts, entered their classrooms, observed how they taught and actually taught classes.  They visited middle and high schools, in addition to universities and training centers, and had enough time left over to take in such cultural treasures as the National Palace Museum, the Great Wall and Forbidden City.  They even stopped to visit with former Hawaii resident Brenda Foster, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, and talked story with Hawaii residents’ working in Beijing.

Students from the English Club at Songshan High School
in Taipei.  They are exchanging letters with students from
Kapolei High.

The PAAC/DBEDT partnership benefits not only teachers, but their students, as well.  Teachers influence hundreds of students per year, so over time, investing in teacher study tours will have a multiple effect on the global orientation of students and residents of our state.  

“The trip to China has changed my outlook on life in general and will definitely change the way I teach,” said Molokai High’s Manuwai Peters.

The application process included submitting resumes, applications and letters of recommendations, followed by an interview.  The selection committee reviewed forty applications and had the difficult task of selecting fourteen participants.  In addition to representation from every school district, committee members wanted people whose interests and responsibilities involved some aspect of Taiwan or China. The trip was preceded by four days of orientation which provided information on Taiwan and China through presentations by Philip Wang, Director General of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu; Professor Meiping Zhu, Co-director of the UH Confucius Institute;  Professor Hong Jiang, UH Department of Geography; and Professor Teresa Wright, Visiting Scholar at the East-West Center from California State University at Long Beach.

The group gets together at Tian An Minh Square.
“We wanted to give these educators an overview, that would be the beginning of learning and teaching more about China and Taiwan,” said PAAC Director Jill Canfield.  “They are among the fastest-growing economies today.  A trip can energize and enrich teachers who can affect thousands of students and colleagues during the course of their educational careers.”     

How successful was the trip? 

Canfield points to some concrete changes that have already been achieved.  A middle school class is writing to Taipei students in an English Communications Club whom the teachers met during a school visit; a high school multi-cultural club is incorporating a Chinese theme in their performance for their May Day program; a principal is sharing his China experience with a World History class and his faculty; a resource teacher is loaning out various cultural items she collected to teachers in her district. 

“This was true professional development for me,” said one teacher. “It’s not often that it’s possible for our schools with limited resources to provide this type of learning environment.” 

Iva Tiave of Farrington High School visits the Beijing
Changping Practical Skills Training Center for Rural Women.

As a result of the trip, teachers are expected to incorporate more China and Taiwan (or Asia, or a global perspective) into their course curriculum; make presentations for their faculty and community groups; write a collaborative article on the Travel Program for their professional organization newsletter; increase awareness of an emerging training school for migrant Chinese women; and plan other activities.

One more wish:  Canfield would like the teachers to assist another PAAC/DBEDT project.  A group of Hawaii high schoolers will be heading for Taiwan and China in June. Their experiences could impact their college and career choices.  As she continues to gather comments and finalize the trip report, Canfield looks forward to PAAC and DBEDT’s opening many more doors to Asia in the years to come. “There’s no telling how far a teacher’s excitement and energy for a more global curriculum will extend!”

Here is a list of the participating teachers:  

Kim Blanchard
Leilehua High School
Central District
Heather Carll
Radford High School Central District
Karen Chun Campbell High School
Leeward district
Gabriele Finn Windward District Office Windward District
Margaret Chow Kaumuali`i Elementary Kauai District
Marlene Kintaro Ka`ewai Elementary
Honolulu District
Joel Mateo Kea`au Middle School Hawaii  District
Noren Lush Univ. High Lab School Honolulu District
Manuwai Peters Molokai High School
Maui District
Marsha Taylor Waialua High School Central District
Michael Tokioka Aiea High School
Central District
Iva Tiave Farrington High Schools Honolulu District
Lillian Wadahara Kapa`a High School Kauai District
Shirley Yamauchi Kapolei Middle School Leeward District 
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 20 May 2008 )
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