Nothing sparks our desire to study another language and learn about a region—its culture and people—more than a deeply engaging and enlightening exchange experience when we are young. Sustainable, meaningful international school partnerships provide tomorrow’s citizens and leaders the opportunity to engage, understand, respect, and collaborate with one another by gaining a firsthand appreciation of each other’s language and way of life.
While we’ve seen growing interest and some successful US-China school partnerships, many more would flourish if goals for students, faculty, and leaders were clearly articulated, and guidance and support were readily available on both sides of the partnership.
Goals and Stakeholders
An overarching goal for many American schools is to use school partnerships to promote the teaching and learning of Chinese language and culture. To make these partnerships last, however, we must pay equal attention to ensuring benefits for the Chinese schools. A powerful objective on the part of Chinese schools is to improve their students’ English language skills.
Another goal is to ensure long-term success of a program. To accomplish this, the entire school commmunity should have a stake in the relationship. When parents, other faculty members, and the community are involved, the US-China exchange program has a vast support structure so that the partnership will thrive over time. Too often, with the departure of one teacher or coordinator, a program can collapse.
Here are some other goals to consider for various audiences in each school:
School or District Leaders
Author: Jeff Wang