Saratoga County and China are closer than they appear. With a new BOCES initiative in the works, educators and eventually students will have the chance to interact in groundbreaking ways.
Our goal is to build a bridge between the two countries, said Peggy Sharkey of Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, a coordinator of the program.
One half of the initiative already exists, Project Chinese, an extracurricular language program offered after school, online and during the summer. That program was recognized as a model program and invited to join the Asia Society Confucius Classrooms Network, which prompted a partnership with Southwest University in Chongqing, China.
A group of educators from China visited seven school districts, including Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs, on Tuesday, April 12, to jumpstart the second half the BOCES initiative: the cultural component.
"We spent last week with school visits [with Chinese delegation] and attending the National Chinese Language Conference [in San Francisco, Calif.] so we could get to know each other and explore the possibility of doing shared projects," said Sharkey.
The program is in the early stages but Sharkey said some things they're exploring are visits of administrators and teachers between the two institutions, exchange of materials and ideas electronically and eventually the exchange of students.
"We're starting with the educators component after we address [that] we will set up teacher-to-teacher, classroom-to-classroom exchanges that will be electronic so they can do joint projects over the internet," said Sharkey. "We hope to send delegation of educators to China in the fall and then consider ways students could meet each other face-to-face."
This summer, BOCES hopes to host a technology specialist or two from Southwest University to discuss with BOCES technology specialists the logistics of communicating electronically.
"They'll discuss with out specialists how to best set up exchange projects," said Sharkey.