Exeter educators visit China

Jenny Ranney had a dream to stand on China's Great Wall. This summer Jenny was able to fulfill her dream and see a lot more, when she visited China with her husband, Bob and daughter Lisa.

The Ranney Family traveled to China as part of the K-12 Education Delegation sponsored by the Intercultural Educational Exchange Association (IEEA). Jenny is a first grade teacher at Lincoln School in Exeter and Bob is a K-12 substitute teacher.

IEEA was established in 1999 to improve international exchange in culture and education between China and the United States, and to promote professional growth for educators. This summer's group consisted of 12 educators from various parts of the United states . A Chinese National guide, who also served as a translator, accompanied the group.

"The 18-day tour was absolutely amazing," Jenny said. "We got to visit all the places I wanted to see."

The Great Wall of China, the Terra Cotta Soldiers, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, a cruise down the Yangtze River to the Three Gorges Dam, and the hanging coffins of the Tijun Ethnic Culture were among the many places the group visited.

The group traveled by air, train, bus, taxi, rickshaw, aerial chair lift, ferry boat, cruise ship, peapod boat and foot. Jenny and Lisa learned how to make dumplings and ate lunch with a Chinese family in one of the Hutong living areas of Beijing. The group saw performances from the Tang Dynasty, the Peking Opera and an acrobatic show. They shopped on Nanjin Road (The Chinese "Rodeo Drive") in Shanghai, and learned to barter with the vendors in the markets.

The professional aspect of the tour included meeting with various leaders of education in China. A school principal told the group about teacher training at Beijing Normal University, and the problems facing administrators and teachers in China. Professor Wang Dignua, from the Basic Education Department of the Ministry of Education, outlined the school system in China and discussed the challenges China faces in education in the coming years.

The group visited many different schools.

"It was exciting to meet with our professional counterparts to discuss differences and commonalities, and to exchange ideas," Jenny said.

A highlight of the trip was the establishment of a sister class in China. Jenny presented a booklet of stories written by her first graders to a first grade teacher at the Experimental Elementary School in Beijing. The teacher in China will reciprocate and send stories and pictures to Lincoln School.

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