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home : education : schools September 14, 2014

7/2/2013 2:07:00 PM
China connection strengthened
David Perkins, right, of Sisters, with other coordinators of Confucius classrooms. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
David Perkins, right, of Sisters, with other coordinators of Confucius classrooms. photo provided

By John Griffith

Last November, Mr. Zhang, a high school principal from the city of Xi'an in east-central China, visited Sisters, hosted by school superintendent Jim Golden and Sisters High School Mandarin language teacher David Perkins.

At that time, Zhang noted that he was quite taken by the American approach to education. He indicated that he wanted to continue the exchange of educators and students to make the best of both worlds.

"The difference here is creativity," said Zhang. "In China we test kids for many things, but we can't test them for creativity, for character. At the same time the American students ... are not so good at the testing. The reason why I am here is to learn how to take the two (styles) and merge them for the good of both cultures."

The second step in this exchange process took place when Golden visited China for 10 days this spring.

The third step in the process will be the implementation of two Confucius classrooms in the Sisters School District this fall; one at Sisters Middle School and one at Sisters High School. In August, two full-time Chinese ambassadors will arrive in Sisters "... who will be working with us to establish Chinese language and culture programs," said Golden, "They will be here for two years, and they will live in our community."

The exchange program is sponsored by the Portland State Confucius Society ( The society is sponsoring nine classrooms in Oregon. Sisters will get two of those classrooms. In addition to their base salary (paid by the Society), each ambassador will come with $10,000 for supplies to support their language and cultural work at Sisters Middle School and Sisters High School and their cultural work with Sisters Elementary School.

"When you look at the world, China will become the world's largest economy," said Golden, "and so what I'm trying to do is to set the stage for our kids to compete in this new world economy. Knowledge of Chinese culture and Chinese language will certainly be a leg up."

Golden sees this two-way exchange continuing with our students visiting and possibly studying in China, and more Chinese students and educators visiting and learning in Sisters.

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