(Ni Hao!) Kristen Hesselbacher and I have safely arrived in China! I was struck by how similar Beijing is to the United States. We could be in any large city, anywhere in the world. Everything is written in English and Chinese, and so far, everyone we have met in Beijing speaks English.
With over 100 educators and board members joining us from the United States, it’s great to be able to connect with key people from Verona, Sun Prairie and Racine. The School District of Janesville is not alone in forging these crucial relationships with Chinese school districts.
Another note of exciting news, I was able to speak to a board member of an international charter immersion school for Chinese and Spanish in Minnesota. They’re school has over 700 students! Though the SDJ is dreaming big, we are grounding ourselves in dreams with great potential that have already become a reality for other districts!
I’ve written on the power of our words, how each statement has the power to bring either alarm or peace. What we speak and the words we use are detrimental to effectively communicating our message. While this stands true in our culture and nation, what happens when we are connecting with a culture or nation that is not our own?
Words have indescribable power, and it cannot be more evident than when sojourning in a land where language is completely different. While I’ve realized this before, the meaning has never held more weight than right now: Our language is intricately connected into who we are. How we use or manipulate phrases, how we navigate our sentences, the words that are available to describe ideas, thoughts and the world around us—all of this shapes who we are and will become.
This experience is reinforcing our need to immerse our students in other languages. The opportunities that will be afforded to them are life altering and will shape them as global citizens to be able to adjust to and accept different cultures and people from around the world.