Exchange teachers experience positive receptions during their first weeks in the U.S.
This fall, schools across the U.S. geared up to welcome students back to class. For the 23 schools that will participate in TCLP this year, the welcome preparations started much earlier.
Over the summer, TCLP host schools prepared for the arrival of their new Arabic and Mandarin teachers by planning activities to introduce them to their communities. Events scheduled for the exchange teachers included welcome parties, school receptions, city tours, hiking in national parks, picnics, and much more.
For exchange teacher Zheng Meng, these authentic American experiences not only made her feel welcome in the community but also helped to prepare her for the challenge of teaching students from a different culture.
“I have been to a baby shower, a birthday party, the beach, a weekly local farmer's market and done many other things” said Ms. Zheng, who will be teaching Mandarin at Newberg High School in Newberg, Oregon. “I tried to talk to people as much as possible and find out the differences between China and the U.S. in [the details of their] daily life, so that I can understand my students’ [culture] better.”
Xia Zhi was greeted at the airport by the school principal, twenty-five of his new colleagues, and a jazz quartet. T.V. cameras from the local news station were also there to interview him about his plans for the upcoming school year. Mr. Xia will teach Mandarin to sixth-graders at Watson B. Duncan Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida this year.
Other TCLP teachers were featured in the local media during their first few weeks as well.
Nashaat Mehany, Arabic teacher at Tomah High School in Tomah, Wisconsin, was interviewed by the local Channel 19 News and the La Crosse Tribune. Mr. Mehany used the spotlight to share his goals for the upcoming year and beyond. “I’d like to see an extended bridge between the community here and the community where I am from,” he said. “I want to share our culture and way of life, and I want to learn more about America and take that back and share it.”
Li Long, a Mandarin teacher at Roton Middle School in Norwalk, Connecticut, is also optimistic about the mutual benefits the program will bring to his home and host schools, as shared in an interview with local newspaper The Hour. "I think through this exchange program, I can get to know more about American culture and I will bring Chinese culture with me to American students," said Li. "American students will benefit a lot as well as the students in China. When I go back, I will bring this authentic American culture to them."
TCLP exchange teachers traveled to their host communities on August 7th following a nine-day orientation in Washington, DC. This year’s cohort includes 15 teachers from China and 8 teachers from Egypt. The teachers will be teaching in 16 different states in the U.S.