Sussex Technical High School is hosting a native Mandarin-speaking teacher from China for the 2013-14 school year as part of the Chinese Guest Teacher Program, a collaboration of the College Board and China’s Confucius Institute Headquarters/Hanban. Hong Xuan (Jenny) Fu is among 187 Chinese guest teachers who will be teaching at schools across 30 states.
The program places visiting teachers from China in U.S. schools for one to three years in order to jump-start or expand school Chinese language and culture programs. It represents a unique opportunity for students and educators to learn Chinese and learn about China from a native speaker. Jenny will start a new Chinese program at Sussex Tech.
“The opportunity for our students to receive foreign language instruction from a university-level Chinese teacher is remarkable,” said Sussex Tech Principal Dr. John Demby. “Ms. Fu’s reassuring enthusiasm for teaching demonstrates her passion to share all aspects of Chinese culture with our students through language instruction.”
“I wanted to share our culture and give my students the opportunity to learn about China. Most Americans only know China from the movies,” Jenny said about why she wanted to come to America. “I also wanted the opportunity to improve my English and experience America myself, and then take that knowledge back to my Chinese students.”
Jenny is from Kunming, the capital and largest city in the Yunnan Province of China. It is located in the most southwestern part of China, and the year-round spring-like weather helps make it a cultural and tourist center with several museums, galleries, and universities. Her family members have been teachers for many years, and her mother is a vice principal of a middle school. Jenny has six years of teaching experience, most recently at a university. She explained that she is adjusting to the odd/even class scheduling, but she likes the smaller class sizes at Sussex Tech.
“My classes at the university were sometimes more than 40 students,” she said.
Jenny is anxious to teach her students and colleagues about her native culture. Music teacher Sara Rose invited Jenny into her home in Georgetown for a month while she was locating permanent accommodations. Sara learned that their two cultures have differences in simple daily routines and food.
“She cooked Chinese food for us several times, and it was so different from what we get in our Chinese restaurants. It was wonderful!” said Sara.
Guest teachers underwent a rigorous screening process and were interviewed by a team from the College Board and the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages to assess teaching skills, adaptability and English proficiency. Confucius Institute Headquarters organizes a six-week training before the teachers leave China and provides the teachers with international transportation. Before arriving in their local communities, guest teachers visited Los Angeles to participate in a 10-day preservice training hosted by the UCLA Confucius Institute.
“I am proud of our district’s attempt to accomplish its mission to provide our students with the skills and knowledge to prepare them to be competitive in a global market. Mandarin Chinese is a rising language in the global employment marketplace,” said Demby.