Laura Zavala, Director of Parent Engagement, San Diego Unified School District
My name is Laura Angel-Zavala and I recently visited China to speak on parent engagement on behalf of the American Education Federation (AEF). I was given the opportunity to present to parents, teachers and administrators in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou. While China is a beautiful country with a rich culture, what most impressed me was the hospitality of its people. Everywhere we went our hosts went out of their way to make my colleagues and me feel not only welcomed but comfortable. Members of the AEF accompanied me throughout the experience and were always by my side to assist me with whatever needs I may have. My interpreter made sure my presentations were translated into Chinese and was there at each one providing interpretation for me.
We visited several elementary, middle, and high schools and were able to meet with their faculty to exchange parent involvement strategies. I felt honored being allowed to visit schools and classrooms to experience firsthand the Chinese educational system. Furthermore, our accommodations in each city exceeded expectations and the food was delicious. Of the meals we shared together, dinner was a very special time where we were able to talk, laugh and reflect on the partnerships and relationships we were creating. In addition, AEF took the time to arrange for visits at significant landmarks and tourist attractions at every city I visited, giving me a true sense of China’s significant history. I had the pleasure of visiting thriving modern cities, giant pandas, ancient temples, and the Great Wall of China. Although I was there to share my experiences with others, I felt like I came away from this trip having learned more than the audiences I was presenting to.
I consider myself very fortunate for having been invited to China and would recommend this trip to anyone who has the good fortune of being asked to support this way. While my journey to the Far East has ended, in many ways it has just begun as I hope to return to China one day.
Daniel Husbands, Principal, Dollahan Elementary School, Rialto, California
We had an exceptional time in China. It was such a great opportunity to really experience the culture and to provide training to teachers who were so welcoming and eager to learn. It was by far one of my greatest experiences, and I believe each of my team members felt the same. Each team had a very unique experience at each of the two schools, with one of the teams having an opportunity to present in front of some professors from Beijing Normal University. Hopefully giving ideas of how they can better prepare the teachers of China during this 21st century.
I want to thank you for the opportunity and hope that there is the opportunity to continue this partnership and further help teachers in China.
David Creswell, Associate Superintendent, Fontana Unified School District
We recently returned from a trip to China that was amazing for myself and my team. I want to thank you and AEF for providing us with this incredible opportunity.
We were a team of three that went to Beijing and Changchun to share educational strategies that we use in the United States with Chinese educators. The educators there were so open, friendly, engaging, and appreciative. We did presentations and demonstrations on several learning strategies. Each presentation was followed with very thoughtful questions and answer periods. We also had the opportunity to tour schools, visit classrooms and meet informally with teachers and administrators. It was a powerful experience.
AEF took care of every details of our trip perfectly. The transportation, accommodations, meals, and cultural field trips were impressive and will last in our memories. We were able to visit many historical and cultural locations. Every aspect of our trip was thoughtfully planned out. We found the people to be very friendly, caring and open.
Eva Fritsh, Principal-on-Assignment, Teaching & Learning, Fontana Unified School District
An opportunity of a lifetime! This is how I would describe my recent visit to China. I was invited by AEF to provide presentations on the American method of instruction in art and music at the elementary level. Everything about my visit was handled in a professional and courteous manner. Ray, at the Pasadena office procured the air tickets and visa quickly and efficiently.
At Beijing Hujialou Central Primary School I received a warm welcome. Staff and students at the school quickly made me feel part of the school. They were very responsive to how we teach and how students learn in the United States. They also went out of their way to ensure I was able to see classes in their school.
The staff at AEF Beijing, especially my interpreter Yang, ensured that my accommodations, transportation and site seeing exceeded my expectations.
This experience has allowed me to grow in my profession and to better meet the needs of my students. Thank you so much AEF for this wonderful opportunity.
Dr. Shawn Judson, Superintendent of Etiwanda School District
We arrived back in California from China last night. I just wanted to thank you for this tremendous opportunity. Our entire group had a fantastic time learning about Chinese history and the educational system. The trips to historic and cultural landmarks were once in a lifetime experiences. Our hosts from the American Education Federation and the local schools were so warm and welcoming. Larry and Chris were so knowledgeable and helped to build our understanding of schools in China. Our primary translator, Serrina, helped us to love China even more with her bubbly personality and sense of humor. Gabby, Mitter and Ben Ito were great assistance to us as well. I didn’t get to meet all of the staff who helped with the middle school group, but our team said they truly enjoyed their interactions as well.
“Thank you” seems so inadequate to express our gratitude for this opportunity and experience. I am hopeful that other educators from Etiwanda may get to make a similar journey in the future and that we will get to welcome Chinese educators to our district.
Don Jaramillo, Principal, Etiwanda High School
Thank you very much for the opportunity to travel this past week to China. The hospitality and professionalism of your staff was exceptional. The daily agenda, afforded me the opportunity to explore and learn more about the culture than I ever could have imagined. I am excited to share my experience with my staff with the hopes of traveling next summer with a group of students. You are to be congratulated for the expertise of AEF and all of the staff. Please personally thank Li and Jack from the Chengdu office, and Cindy and Jerry from the Beijing office, they were amazing. Also let Grace know she is first class and truly represents AEF at its highest quality. Again, thank you for the experience and I look forward to working with you in the future.
Chantal Anderson, Rialto Unified School District
I just wanted to let you know that we made it back safely from the China trip. We had an AWESOME time!! I must say that your AEF representative Jerry
is the best! We felt in good hands the entire time we were there. We were treated very well and couldn’t have asked for a better experience. We had a great time visiting many schools in China and exchanging with Chinese educators. Thanks again for giving us the opportunity to visit China and look forward to future cooperation.