A Summer Abroad

Lily Robison and Carter Jones, Reporter, Designer, and Photographer

Teachers Emily Provencher and Amanda Gosch decided it would be exciting to take a trip to China over the summer to teach students new skills in mathematics and art.

The teachers stayed overseas from June 26 to July 23 in the city of Xuzhou. While in Xuzhou, Gosch and Provencher experienced a life very different than American life.

China stuck out significantly from America to the teachers through their education system. There is much debate about Chinese education over American education, and the two American teachers experienced first hand what it’s like to teach in China.

The first week they went on a pre-tour. After the pre-tour was over, the teachers began working with Chinese students and teachers.

Provencher said that she taught them some math activities, how to use math with cards and projects that they could do with different games. Provencher said that students sit in class listening to the teacher talk and do not do any activities or games.

“I think the Chinese teachers really enjoyed it,” Provencher said, “I got some letters from them, and they said how great it was, how lucky our students are to be able to learn in a fun environment.”

From Gosch’s perspective in China, she said there was calligraphy and pottery everywhere they went.  

“I did go to a seminar where we did calligraphy lessons,” she said. “We learned that a lot of people are illiterate when it comes to calligraphy because not everyone could do the letters. This is because their alphabet is so huge and it takes forever for them to master it.”

Gosch said most of the information she gave to her students won’t be used.

“What I taught them, they could not necessarily apply to their classroom,” she  said. “In China they have strict, by-the-book rules. You cannot have them be creative; they cannot think outside the box.”

While in China, Provencher and Gosch got to learn not only about the education barrier but also about the different cultural aspects. For Gosch, getting to experience real Chinese food was a plus.

“Chinese food is not the same as American Chinese food. You don’t have fried rice; you don’t have fortune cookies. I ate jellyfish, boiled frog soup, sheep, tofu.,” Gosch said.

Gosch said she also learned to say some terms in Chinese. Leng shui means “cold water,” and wo ai ni means, “I love you.”

During the tour around China, Provencher and Gosch got to experience the beauty of the Chinese scenery and countryside. Gosch said the riverboat was the best thing she had seen in her entire life.

“You see a beautiful landscape and these water buffalo that are wild,” Gosch said. “They’re everywhere, and some people that live near there are fishing for dinner or taking a bath; it’s so beautiful. I didn’t ever want to leave that boat.”