Bridging an international, educational gap

Jack Gaynor, a junior at Colonie, acted as the guide for several of the Chinese students. He showed them around Chuck Spangler's technology class as he described how students keep a journal of their daily progress on projects for their teachers to check on.

Tianjin students took pictures of the robotic projects, students working on Computer-aided design projects and a teacher's car being worked on in the automotive engineering class. A chorus of "woah's" was heard as some of the Chinese students peered into the wood shop class.

After a tour of the technology department, the students visited Laurinda Halliday's Orchestra Class.

Gaynor said that while some of the students were in awe of some of the classes they were able to drop in on, he said some explanations might have gotten lost in translation.

"I'm not sure if they understood everything," he said, adding that each language has its own form of slang. "I felt like, 'Oh jeez, what am I going to tell them?' It's interesting how they perceive our language, grammatically. We use a lot of slang."

Gaynor was impressed by how long Chinese students attend school and said they seem much more focused on their schoolwork then students in the U.S. As an engineering student, he said going over to China would be a great learning experience.

"It would be interesting to see another country's ideas," he said.

After the tour of the school was over, all of the American and Chinese students gathered in the auditorium as a question-and-answer session took place.

There, American students learned of the long class days and that Chinese students begin learning English at age 9. Principal David Wetzel asked the Chinese students if they like the sport of soccer, which the students quickly corrected him, calling it "football."

Tianjin students also revealed that, if they choose to, they can begin learning how to play musical instruments at the age of 3 or 4. While there are computer labs at their school, most of the students said their parents do not allow a computer at home because it would take away from their studies.

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