August 21, 2008

Mt. Blue Has Guest Chinese Teacher

By Ann Bryant

FARMINGTON - Mt. Blue High School is hosting one of eight Chinese instructors who will teach their language and culture to Maine high school and middle school students this year.

"My teaching here will let American students know more about China and the culture ... it's a great honor for me," Zhu Kunwei said Wednesday as he and teacher Lisa Dalrymple from the World Language Department prepared for their students to arrive next Wednesday.

This is also his first visit to America and first time away from his home in the Shandong Province of China and from his wife and new baby.

As part of the Chinese Guest Teacher Program, Kunwei will teach three classes in his native Mandarin Chinese and team-teach a class on East Asia Studies with his host teacher and mentor, Rachel Danner. His schedule will also include time to help develop a Chinese curriculum and to act as a resource person reaching out to students and teachers in other schools, Danner said.

Danner and Dalrymple have worked for the past three years to encourage adoption of a Chinese curriculum for the department that already provides classes in Spanish, French, German, American Sign Language and now Chinese, she said. The school system also offers Spanish and French classes in the elementary schools.

Kunwei is here on a grant program for one year but the school can reapply next year, Dalrymple said.

"It's an opportunity for SAD 9 to develop a curriculum at a minimal cost," she added. "It's a difficult time for taxpayers . . . this gives the school the chance to give students the best educational opportunities with very minimal expense."

"It's such a small world. Maine has a lot of connections with China so it's only logical to bring the new language to the program; a language that is one of the most widely spoken in the world," Danner said. "Federal programs are becoming available and it just seems like the right time."

Kunwei teaches English to secondary students in China, a required class for all grades. With four years teaching experience, he took a leave from his position to participate in this program, he said. While missing his family, he can communicate with them through Skype, an Internet program that allows him and them to hear and see each other, Dalrymple explained.

"It's a big challenge but it's a bridge to communicate culture . . . and to communicate to each other," Kunwei said.

Originally published by Staff Writer.

(c) 2008 Sun-Journal Lewiston, Me.. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.