Middle school principal brings home lessons from China

Published 10:50 pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

By Whitley Kilcrease

While most people during summer months are crowded around swimming pools or congregating at backyard barbecues, Charles Henderson Middle School principal Aaron Brown spent a portion of his summer hard at work in China.

Brown recently returned from a trip abroad to Beijing, bringing back with him a “wealth of knowledge” as part of a collaborative effort with Troy City Schools and the Confucius Institute of Troy to expose students and administrative staff to Chinese culture.

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According to Lee Hicks, superintendent of Troy City Schools, the Confucius Institute asked for representatives from the school system and Brown volunteered to go.

The Institute provided everything except airfare, which was paid for with local funds.

“International education is an asset for our students,” Hicks said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to send more representatives in the future.”

Brown said he was offered a position to accompany a Master’s class exploratory trip to Beijing and that the experience exposed him to a different culture and gave him a better insight into the Chinese way of life.

While in China, Brown met with the principal and president of New Century High School to discuss the possibility of an exchange program between them and CHMS.

Brown said NCHS boasts a 100 percent graduation rate and Troy schools could benefit from a partnership between the two school systems.

“They have offered to house and care for any student we send on an expedition to China,” Brown said. “It’s beneficial for students to be exposed to a culture other than their own.”

Brown said CHMS is also trying to implement a classroom program in partnership with the Confucius Institute.

“We are pursuing to try to get a Confucius Institute classroom at this school,” Brown said. “Charles Henderson Middle School is in the process of applying for one now.”

Brown also visited landmarks around China, such as temples and museums, and called his climb up the Great Wall of China an “eye-opening experience.”

He was also able to talk with Chinese-Americans about their way of life in their home country and the benefits of students traveling to the country.

CHMS had two exposures to Chinese culture in the past year where representatives of the Confucius Institute visited the school and introduced students to traditional customs such as paper folding, language and cuisine.

“Our students were extremely excited,” Brown said. “Anything different and new is exciting to them.”

Brown also hopes to establish communications with a classroom in China, via the Internet.

This way CHMS students and students in China could communicate, share ideas and learn valuable lessons from each other.

Brown said students could benefit from exposure to Chinese culture because of the economic impact China has on the state, from automotive plants to other manufacturers in Alabama.

“It gives a student more benefits when entering the working world if they have a second language experience on their resumes or job applications,” Brown said.

“It will give them a leg up when looking for a job and help them become better, more productive people.”

Hicks said Chinese studies in Troy and abroad is a “great investment” for school system.

“We’re excited of what Mr. Brown accomplished and we’re excited about the future of Troy City Schools,” Hicks said.

“We’re going to keep building and hopefully this will be one more of the great things Troy can offer our students.”