Chinese Students Experience Oskaloosa And Iowa

Carl Drost (middle back) helps to explain how the tractor rides will take place to a visiting group of Chinese students this past week.

Carl Drost (middle back) helps to explain how the tractor rides will take place to a visiting group of Chinese students this past week.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Creating an appreciation for each others culture and building relationships that could last a lifetime, these are just two of the benefits enjoyed by the visiting students from China.

This year’s group is part of an ongoing cultural and educational exchange between Oskaloosa and the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China.

On Wednesday, the group held a togetherness meal on the campus of William Penn University. Thursday, the visiting students hopped aboard a John Deere tractor at Van Wall Equipment to experience another facet of Iowa. The group was then headed to a pork farm to see an Iowa farm in action.

Oskaloosa Middle School Principal Andy Hotek has been a part of the visits between the two schools for the past four years.

This time the visit included two teachers and seventeen students. Hotek said that Van Wall has been great because “the students get the opportunity to drive a tractor and they love that, and it’s been the highlight of their trip every year.”

“We’ll take pictures, and those are the pictures that I hear about them sharing with their families, of them in the big John Deere tractor,” said Hotek. “Last night [Wednesday], we had a banquet where we combined the traditional American potluck dinner and the traditional dumpling spring festival dinner.”

When it comes to the future of the sister school program, Hotek said discussions are taking place to send another group of Oskaloosa students to China next fall.

Teachers from the Oskaloosa district are slated to travel to China this summer.

Hotek says he’s been invited to speak at the international symposium in October.

When questioned as to what exactly the benefit is to both schools from the program, Hotek says it helps to create a better understanding of global education, sharing the experience not only for Oskaloosa students but for teachers as well. “Our students get to experience different cultures and make new friends from all over the world, and I think what we find more and more every year is that our students maintain these communications over the years. That kids are more alike, more similar, all over the world then they are different.”

“You know they are the same in a lot of ways. The same family values. They want to work hard, they want to succeed, they want to be happy. It’s just a great experience for our kids to have a better understanding of all the different world cultures,” explained Hotek.

With the Chinese and American education systems being so different, Hotek says that the Chinese education system is rapidly changing and that they are interested in our system, and duplicating and replicating some of the things that we are doing.

With a perception that often the American education is inferior or broken, Hotek agrees that there “are certainly things that we need to improve. In the development of creative thinkers, problem solvers, we are leading the world.”

The American education system is also changing. It was once a mechanism to provide a workforce to industry. Hotek said, “Up until thirty years ago, prior to initiating a lot of instructional technology, we were producing workers, manufacturing workers, or skilled laborers. Those jobs are not prevalent anymore. In fact, our students that are in elementary school right now are probably preparing themselves for jobs that don’t even exist yet. So we’re building teamwork, problem-solving, creative thinkers, and ‘outside of the box thinking’ because that’s what industry is telling us we need to have.”

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Posted by on Feb 10 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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