TCLP Host Schools Welcome Exchange Teachers

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The 2016-2017 TCLP Exchange Teachers were warmly met and excitedly welcomed by their new host communities  

TCLP teachers completed their orientation on August 4th, 2016 and on that same day they traveled to their host communities with their mentor teachers for the first time. Across the country, 23 schools welcomed their new Arabic or Mandarin teachers to their new local communities where they will spend the next academic year. TCLP host schools began welcome preparations early on in the summer to greet their new teachers enthusiastically and make them feel at home right away. Teachers were met with warm friendly welcomes and many fun activities organized by their host schools and community members. Several teachers were featured in local media outlets, such as TV news and local newspapers. Here are a few highlights of what the teachers have been up to these first few weeks!

Soon after arriving in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Wael Ahmed met his county's School Superintendent. He completed a three day school orientation at Anne Chesnutt Middle School and began his Arabic classes shortly after. As part of his welcome, he visited the historic parts of the city such as the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. Soon after his first weeks of school, local television station WNCN visited him and produced a special segment on his Arabic classes. The feature aired on television and was available online for residents of North Carolina to see the special impact Wael is having at his school. Gao Xingping, at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument, Colorado, was featured in the Colorado Spring Gazette, where a spokeswoman for her district stated that the exchange, "helps fill our need for critical languages and will help her with her English, which she teaches in her homeland...It feels like this is a big deal." Shi Cuilian participated in a video interview for her school's news channel where she shared her excitement to teach Mandarin at Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City, New Jersey. She also talked about her life in China and Chinese culture including the meaning of her name in Chinese. TCLP teachers often become celebrities in their schools. After being introduced to students and staff at Martin Luther King Intermediate School in Piscataway, New Jersey, Ye Chengzhu was happy to see the great response from students as many would enthusiastically greet her in the hallway.

Parents are also excited to meet the new TCLP teachers, as Yu Aihua learned when she presented at Mingus Union High School's back to school night. She was also featured in her local newspaper in Cottonwood, Arizona and presented to the governing board of her school. TCLP host schools are eager to share the excitement of launching new Arabic or Mandarin programs. Huang Yongqian was invited to the Los Angeles Unified School District principals' meeting where she was introduced to more than 20 principals in attendance. She spoke about TCLP and her school's new Mandarin program.

As exchange teachers are introduced to their new communities, their mentor teachers, community liaisons, and school administrators play key roles in making them feel at home. Upon arriving in Chicago, Ahmed Abdelaziz toured the downtown area with his mentor, Scott Topel, and explored his school’s neighborhood and Lake Michigan with his community liaison, Abby Zodo. He also visited a local farmer’s market with his host family. Exchange teachers are all welcomed and live with local families for two weeks after arriving in their host communities. Gu Wenming had a terrific time with his hosts! He especially enjoyed dinners with them, as well as with school staff from his host school, Captain Nathan Hale Middle School in Coventry, Connecticut. He enjoyed the opportunity for cultural exchange, as he prepared Chinese dishes for his hosts to show his appreciation. They were delighted by the meals, especially the dumplings. They also liked discussing the similarities and differences between U.S. and Chinese cuisine.

Many teachers explore the region they will be living in to get a real feel of the local culture. After arriving in Buxton, Maine, Cheng Li traveled with Wang Yu to many places throughout the state and tried the famous Maine lobster. She also went apple-picking with her host family on a local farm. During his first weeks, Yahya Ismael met Ms. Emily Cain, who is running for Congress and was visiting his host community of Lewiston, Maine. During their conversation, Yahya shared with her information about TCLP and the Arabic program he is helping to launch at Lewiston High School. Chen Ke had a fun time singing Karaoke when he arrived in Newberg, Oregon. His host school, Newberg High School, has also helped facilitate meeting visiting international scholars and Chinese students at George Fox University. Heba Mokhtar also enjoyed her time with her hosts and colleagues at Garden Oaks Montessori in Houston, Texas. She attended a fun Jazzercise workout class and went to a Lebanese restaurant.

TCLP exchange teachers will be in their host communities for an academic year helping to grow their critical language programs to sustainability. This year’s cohort includes 16 teachers from China and 8 teachers from Egypt. The teachers are teaching in 15 different states in the U.S. Follow us on facebook and twitter to keep up with all the amazing activities that TCLP teachers are taking part in this year!