Elementary School Says “Ni Hao” to International Student Exchange
Although more than 7,000 miles apart, many educators from China and Indiana focus on a common goal—increasing global learning opportunities for students. With the help of Global Indiana, Robey Elementary School in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, became part of an international education movement when they created a sister-school partnership with Tianchang Primary School in Hangzhou, China. The partnership has led to many unique learning opportunities, but perhaps the most significant is an international exchange trip for elementary school students.
Robey’s work with the exchange program provides students and teachers with an opportunity to learn about schools and children in different parts of the world. The exchange allows students to abandon their textbooks and experience different countries and cultures firsthand.
Two teachers and more than a dozen students from China came to Indianapolis in August to learn about students of the Hoosier state.
“Students interacted like they were siblings,” said Shernika Johnson, Robey Elementary School assistant principal. “You would never know they came from two different worlds.”
Robey teachers and students gave a school tour while the visitors observed classrooms to get an idea of how American students learn.
“We want students to have a broader view of the world. As the world becomes smaller, it becomes more important to have a global-mindedness,” said Kyle Fessler, Robey Elementary School principal.
The group noted differences in how Indiana elementary classes are organized by grade level rather than subject area. The visitors also noted how Robey Elementary celebrates the work of its students with classroom and hallway displays.
In addition to school observations, Kejun Pang, assistant principal at Tianchang Primary School, and the other Chinese visitors enjoyed Indianapolis tourist attractions including the Indianapolis Zoo and Indiana State Fair. The group was amazed at how empty Indiana seemed with such open land and so few people. The experience was eye-opening for everyone.
“It is important for students to experience other cultures and classrooms,” said Pang.
The best part of the experience was the student relationships formed as they taught one another.
“It is great to see our students interacting with your students,” said Pang. “I hope more schools will follow with these opportunities.”
Published: October 2011