Georges El-Ahmar listens attentively, eyes wide open, taking in every word Miss Jie Deng says. “What is school like in China?” He asks. “How much homework does each student get in Grade 5?”
El-Ahmar, a Grade Five student at Prince Edward Public School, is one of the many students who have the opportunity of learning from a student teacher from Southwest University in China. “It’s really neat because Miss Deng lives so far away and I am learning things about the Chinese culture,” Georges says.
Miss Jie Deng is one of five student teachers placed at Prince Edward School and one of 20 University of Southwest China students enrolled in the Teacher Educational Reciprocal Learning program, a joint venture with the University of Windsor, Greater Essex County District School Board and Southwest University. The students are studying Education for one semester at the University of Windsor with the goal of becoming teachers in their home country, China.
Since 2010, there have been three rounds of exchanges between Southwest University and the University of Windsor. Each Fall, a group of Southwest China University candidates spend three months at the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Education and visit selected Greater Essex County Public schools for three weeks. In the Spring, a selected few University of Windsor students visit Southwest University. Deng will visit for three weeks, observing and assisting when necessary in different classrooms throughout Prince Edward.
“I feel this experience has been invaluable and I am learning a great deal about the Canadian school system.” Deng says. “There are some differences between the Chinese school system and the Canadian system, but there are more similarities. My goal is to bring the new ideas I have learned in Canada to my own classroom in China.”
The learning is reciprocal. Not only are the Southwest University teacher candidates learning about the Canadian school system and culture, Prince Edward students are gaining a more global perspective. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn more about another culture and to think globally about world issues,” says Matthew Burkhart a Grade 4/5 teacher at Prince Edward who teaches Georges Science and Social Studies.
Prince Edward School has been gracious hosts welcoming their guests with excitement and open arms. A Canadian potluck at the end of the placement is planned on Thursday, October 24th, 2013 to introduce the Chinese students to some of Canada’s more popular regional dishes.
Jennifer Minovski, Key Communicator, Prince Edward Public School