Principals begin exchange of education cultures

Educating upcoming generations is a priority in every culture, even if the methods used to bring about that education vary widely.

Ms. Xiao Jumei, a principal from a Xi’an high school in the Shaanxi Province of China, and HRVHS Principal Karen Neitzel are embarking on an adventure of education-culture exchange, along with nine other pairs of educators from Oregon and China.

Called the U.S.-China Administrator Shadowing Project-Oregon/Shaanxi, the plan aims to bring administrators from each country to spend a week in their partner’s shoes — learning firsthand about ideas, infrastructure and practices between the two as they apply to high school education.

“This is a very great opportunity to exchange ideas between the U.S. and China,” said Xiao through interpreter Huang Minchun — another educator working at HRVHS this year teaching Mandarin. Xiao has already visited schools in Boston and New York City.

According to Xiao, her hometown (Xi’an) in Shaanxi Province in central China is the site of the famous ancient Terracotta Warrior Army of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. She also notes that the area is famous for the fine art of paper-cut paintings.

Xiao, whose demeanor is friendly, effusive and inviting, notes that each culture’s education practices have advantages and disadvantages. She was particularly struck by the small class sizes in the U.S. According to Xiao and Huang, average class sizes are between 40 and 50 students in China.

She also marveled at the quality of the sports programs and facilities at every school. In Xiao’s district, extra-curricular programs are focused more narrowly on folk dancing, calligraphy, limited sports clubs and marksmanship skills.

On a visit to Wy’east Middle School, Xiao was particularly impressed with the number and quality of the soccer fields for a pre-high school program.

Another aspect of American-style education brought observations from Xiao.

“There is much more interaction between the teacher and the students here. The students are allowed to do more; be more active ... to be more happy in class,” she said.

In contrast, Xiao, when asked, noted that Chinese teachers are much more strict and command more attention.

In most of China, she said, it is the teachers who move between classrooms, ensuring long-term classmate relationships. Xiao was struck by the speed with which hundreds of students in every grade move between classes. She offered wonder at how the “children do not get lost” with all their travel.

Chinese education, according to Huang and Xiao, is restricted to academic classes alone. When touring HRV, Xiao was surprised to find a metal shop, greenhouses, small-animal rearing and other arts offerings. The idea of “electives” of any kind was novel and something she found very interesting, offering potential for her students.

Neitzel will soon be hosted in China by Xiao and her school families over spring break and will be making similar observations, hoping to take away some new administrative and curricular ideas as a result of her visit there. Her trip will be chronicled in a follow-up article.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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