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Trip to China could bring China to Estacada

by: Contributed Photo, Estacada Superintendent Mike Call and Carl Ma, deputy director of Education for Hunan Province, visit Tieneman Square in China this summer.

The Estacada School board supported Superintendent Mike Call's proposal to apply for a teacher of the Chinese language and culture from China through Hanban, China's official agency authorized to promote Chinese language and culture internationally, during the Sept. 13 board meeting.

If the district is selected, a Chinese teacher could be on staff as early as January 2007.

'Training, preparation, working with district teacher mentors and instruction in both Chinese culture and language would take place through the balance of this 2006-2007 school year,' Call said. 'Then that same teacher would continue formal instruction for an additional two full school years in schools in our district.'

Call was a member of the Chinese Bridge Education Delegation that traveled to China for a week in June. Four-hundred teachers and educators from the United States were chosen for the delegation as a way to introduce the program, which is designed to bridge the Chinese and United States cultures through education.

With more than 1.3 billion people living in China and millions more Chinese speaking people living across the globe, Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, yet, according to the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools, there are approximately only 250 Chinese language teachers in U.S. schools.

By contrast, English is a required subject for all students in China. 'No exceptions allowed,' Call said.

Except for personal purchases and the round-trip airfare to Los Angeles, Call's trip was paid for by Hanban, who sponsored the trip in partnership with the College Board, the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools, and the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages.

Call said he was encouraged to apply to be selected for the delegation by Estacada High School Principal Rick Slater, who also applied, but was not chosen.

Call said his job now is to promote the idea to the school board, school community and the communities the district serves, and draw attention to the value of participation. 'My goal is to educate our learning community and to provide our students the very best preparation possible for the world they will encounter economically,' he said. 'Chinese is spoken by over half the world population, and they are a world power today. Our students must be able to compete productively in a global economy and work force. Communication is essential, no matter what field of study or their chosen profession.'