Ameson hosts delegation of SAIS and CAIS Principals

IMG 1266 350The delegates pose with Ameson representatives at the Sun Yatsen Mausoleum in Nanjing


his month a delegation of 11 principals from American independent schools visited China at the invitation of the Ameson Education and Cultural Exchange Foundation. Led by Steve Robinson, President of the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS), and Paul Miller, Senior Director of Global Initiatives at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the delegation included members from the SAIS and the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). The trip was also joined by the Deputy Director of Ameson’s Washington DC office, Zhu Xiao Di. During the week-long trip, the delegates visited top high schools in the Shanghai-Jiangsu area, participated in an international forum for high school principals, and enjoyed several sightseeing excursions. 

The first stop on the trip was at Shanghai Gezhi High School, one of the top high schools in China. Founded by a group of scholars from England, China and the United States, Gezhi has always been an internationally-oriented school. The delegates also visited Jiangyin Nanjing High School, Nanjing Number 1 High School and several other schools to meet with school administrators. Attending classes in progress at the schools offered a glimpse into how international curricula have adapted to a different cultural environment.  Headmaster of Shorecrest Preparatory School, Mr. Mike Murphy, stated he was impressed with the small (by Chinese standards) class sizes and the dedication to learning English that students demonstrated.

IMG 1311 350The delegation observes an AP Chemistry class in Nanjing
The school visits also gave the principals the chance to negotiate future student exchanges. Several of the delegates’ schools had previously hosted Ameson SAYA students. Bill McGee, Headmaster of the Hill Country Christian School, which hosted students in 2012, said the school was “very anxious for another group of SAYA students.” As noted by Zhu Xiao Di, the average age that Chinese students go abroad has decreased steadily over the years, and the number of high school students participating in international exchanges grows every year.  

Interacting with local students is a highlight of a business trip abroad for any educator. On this trip, students stole the spotlight in classes and meetings alike. Zhang Yicheng, a student at Shanghai Gezhi High School, talked to the delegation about her experiences volunteering in the United States, and how that led her to conduct research on the differences between student participation in volunteer activities in China and the United States, research which provided the foundation for a volunteer network she designed and implemented to get students more involved. 

IMG 1221 350Steve Robinson, President of the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS), delivers a speech at the Jiangyin forumThe delegation’s visit coincided with an educational forum hosted by the Jiangyin Education Bureau’s National Training Center for Secondary School Principals at Jiangyin’s Nanjing High Senior High School of Jiangsu Province. Titled School Culture and School-based Curriculum, the forum was attended by 250 principals from 35 Chinese cities and 8 countries – the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and South Africa, Italy. The opening ceremony featured speeches by Chen Yukun, Director of the National Training Center for Secondary School Principals and Yang Jiujun, Deputy Dean of the Research Institute of Education Science of Jiangsu Province, and the Deputy Mayor of Jiangyin. After seven half-hour presentations, including one by delegation leader Steve Robinson, the forum was divided into five groups to engage in panel discussions on topics ranging from personalized education to the construction of school and national culture on a diverse multi-cultural foundation. 

IMG 1479 350The finale of Nanjing Number 1 High School's 105th Anniversary celebrationThe delegation’s visit also coincided with the 105th Anniversary for Nanjing Number 1 High School. As part of the week’s events, Nanjing Number 1 High School invited the principals to observe an AP Chemistry class for senior 1 students, and then engage in a dialogue with AP teachers, students, parents, and administrators. The next day was the anniversary celebration, which featured performances by students and teachers, a speech from the Head of the Jiangsu Department of Education, and an appearance by alumnus Meng Fei (host of a famous Chinese dating show).

The last stop on the tour was Suzhou, where some principals visited local schools and others took a sightseeing tour. On October 30th, some of the delegates caught flights returning to the United States, and some others continued on, visiting cities such as Beijing or Wenzhou for further school visits with Ameson representatives. 

For many of the principals, this was their first time in China; others had come multiple times in the past; but all participants found the tour to be interesting, informative, and fulfilling. The Ameson Foundation hopes that the relationships formed between U.S. and Chinese schools on this trip will allow students on both sides of the Pacific to better understand one another.

IMG 1526 500The delegates pose with Deputy Director Hu Jinbo of the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education and Ameson representatives

Principals joining the delegation included Dr. Steve Robinson, President of the Southern Association of Independent Schools; Paul Miller, Senior Director of Global Initiatives at the National Association of Independent Schools; Mrs. Becky Gilmore from Augusta Preparatory School; Mr. Bill McGee from Hill Country Christian School; Mr. Gene Bratek from Holy Innocents' Episcopal School; Mr. Mike Murphy from Shorecrest Preparatory School; Mr. Peter McCormack from Rolling Hills Preparatory School; Ms. Barbara Wagner from the Marlborough School; Dr. Stuart Grauer from The Grauer School; Mr. Richard Ulffers from the International High School of the French‐American International School; Carolyn Chandler from Metarie Park Country Day School; and Zhu Xiao Di, Deputy Director of Ameson’s Washington DC office.

8x18 500Group photo of all guests attending the Jiangyin forum (click to download a higher resolution copy)

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