TCLP Alumni Achieve Sister School Agreements with U.S. Schools
Through alumni efforts official cross-cultural exchanges grow in U.S. and Chinese Schools


TCLP Alumni, Tan Lihua (2013-2014) and Pan Jiling (2010-2011), continued to build on the work they accomplished at their host schools and have now expanded international opportunities for both U.S. and Chinese students and teachers. Both alumni maintained regular and enthusiastic communication with schools in the U.S. and developed methods of continued collaboration. More importantly, both alumni were motivated and eager to grow the friendships and connections they made while on TCLP. As Ms. Tan explains; “the teaching journey with TCLP in 2013-2014 has contributed to setting up my life’s mission: becoming a global educator who will help break down cultural barriers through exposure to people from different walks of life, while preparing students for a globally connected world.”

When she taught Mandarin Chinese at Central Cabarrus High School in North Carolina, Ms. Tan had her students communicate through a Skype-class with her Chinese students at her home school. They shared their opinions about a wide variety of topics, including educational systems, festivals, food, and music. They were excited to find they had a lot of the same interests as their peers had and were amazed to learn so much about different customs, celebrations and cultures.

After coming back to her home school, Dazu High School in Chongqing, she and Ms. Yang Junjing, a Chinese teacher at JN Fries Magnet School and Concord High School in North Carolina, organized e-pal activities for their U.S. and Chinese students. They had a Skype class, in which students interacted virtually with their e-pals.

Students and teachers were encouraged by the Skype class and pen-pal activities and hoped to have more opportunities to learn about each other’s cultures and to broaden cultural relations. Ms. Tan applied for a Critical Language Project (CLP) grant to launch joint-classroom projects. Together with her U.S. colleagues, they organized pen pals and e-pals activities for all students participating in the joint-classroom project and created a Sister School Club. In the Chinese and ESL joint classroom, there were three major ventures: the Folk Tales project, the One Day in the Life project, and the My Identity, Your Identity Project. In the Sister School Club, students sent some cultural items to their sister school and had literature circle twice each week. Ms. Tan also organized a karaoke singing contest, English story-telling contest, and field trips to see the Dazu Rock Carvings.

Through the sister school projects all the participants had a better understanding of each other’s culture. Both Dazu High School and Concord High School put a high value on the partnerships, and agreed that it’s important to keep students globally aware. In May 2015, the two schools decided to sign an official sister schools agreement and will explore more opportunities for creating student, teacher, and school administrator exchange programs.

In February 2016, the first group of Chinese students and teachers of Dazu High School visited Concord High School. Students were warmly welcomed by the student body and teachers. They lived with a host family and shared Chinese culture through traditional food, games and music. Students also went to school with their peers and attended International Baccalaureate classes, in which they learned more about diverse cultures. In addition, they shared their foreign language learning experience with Chinese learning students, and finished a culture share project with their American partners. Ms. Tan loved how enthusiastically her students embraced this visit and how proud they were to showcase their cultures to their friends. The learning experience was very meaningful to them. She will never forget the proud smile emanating from a student who had previously struggled in his home school. His American friends praised his presentation on Chinese ethnic minorities, and Ms. Tan was elated for him to have that moment of achievement.

Summing up her experience, Ms. Tan asserts “the more students learn about other people’s culture, the more competitive they are to survive outside their own country. Thanks to TCLP for the great endeavor in developing cultural communication between Chinese and American students.”

From 2010 to 2011, Pan Jiling was hosted by Hopkinton High School in Hopkinton, Massachusetts where she was the school’s first Chinese teacher. Ms. Pan organized a variety of culture-related activities for her students and the local community throughout the year. Ms. Pan also met her then principal, Alyson Geary, and soon they developed a profound friendship. Ms. Geary and the students at Hopkinton developed a deep interest in Chinese language and culture during Ms. Pan’s stay.

In 2013, Ms. Geary, together with 27 students and two other teachers from Hopkinton went to visit Ms. Pan’s school in Pingxiang, Jiangxi, China. They began to talk about the possibility of cooperation between the two schools. In 2016, Joshua Hanna, assistant principal at Hopkinton, together with 41 students and five other teachers, came and visited Pingxiang High School in April and signed an agreement of cooperation between the two schools. After signing the sister school agreement, the two schools will officially develop cultural links and share academic resources with each other for the purpose of strengthening relationships and building understanding and appreciation between peoples in China and the U.S. The two schools will also maintain short-term teacher exchange programs and provide the opportunity to study and live in their sister school community if host families and educational opportunities are available.

The work of both Ms. Tan and Ms. Pan illustrate the great benefits of flourishing relationships between schools in the U.S. and TCLP alumni home countries. TCLP alumni interested in continuing to expand connections and projects between their home schools and host schools can watch the 2015 Alumni Virtual Training Conference on building international sister school relationships at:…. On this page alumni can also find resources to put them on the road to building official sister school programs.