Twenty educators and two interpreters from China received hands-on continuing education training at College of the Siskiyous last week

As a follow-up trip to a previous visit to Siskiyou County in 2017, teachers from five schools in the city of Qingyuan, in the Guangdong province of China, spent five days in workshops at COS.

College president Stephen Schoonmaker said they were going to be “sharing with them the history of education in the US” and “active learning techniques.”

Their five days were filled with educational workshops during the day and cultural exchange activities at night.

The visiting delegates stayed with hosts in Dunsmuir, Weed, Mt. Shasta, Lake Shastina and Etna. The delegates and their translator/chaperones shared meals and recreational activities with their hosts, who were invited to participate in the evening cultural exchange activities on the COS campus in Weed.

When not on campus, delegates and their homestay hosts engaged in a variety of leisure activities ranging from calligraphy to playing pool. One of the delegates, who went by the American nickname of “Johnson,” told his homestay hosts, Richard and Donna Farris, he wanted instant noodles for breakfast, asking for “Cup-a-Noodle... from 7-11.” Once his homestay hosts figured out what he was asking for, they provided his with Top Ramen for breakfast. So, “Johnson” was a happy camper in the Farris household.

Last week’s Education Summit was in response to a trip Schoonmaker made last year to China, where he taught a seminar on education which generated interest in more training. As a result, the delegation of 20 educators came from China to Siskiyou County to continue education with Schoonmaker and the faculty of COS.

Education Summit workshop training topics for the Chinese educators, according to information provided by the COS public relations department, included: “History of U.S. Higher Education,” “Learning Theory and Practice,” “Evolving Art of Effective Teaching,” “The Holistic Student,” “Active Learning Techniques,” and “Qingyuan, China & College of the Siskiyous Future.”

A Chinese culture activity night last Wednesday consisted of a traditional meal of Chinese dumplings (known in the US as potstickers), vegetables and rice. Before dinner, all of the American homestay hosts had a lesson from the Chinese delegates on how to make Chinese dumplings.

There was plenty of embarrassed laughter as the Americans discovered how difficult it was to make the familiar little meat-filled dough pockets with neatly pleated edges. But with much help from the delegates, the resulting meal was a delicious success.

During the meal, COS faculty members, Chinese delegates, and their homestay hosts socialized and got better acquainted.

To the Chinese delegates’ delight, one of the delegates, biology teacher Mr. Jun Hong Zeng, brought out a jar of homemade hot sauce he’d brought from China. With happy recognition, the other delegates immediately added some of the familiar hot sauce to their plates, which brought smiles of satisfaction all around.

After the meal, a prepared Chinese culture program was presented by Ming Ni “Minnie” Huang, an English teacher in China. The program covered all aspects of Chinese culture, including poetry, songs, music, art, traditional Chinese festivals and foods.

The Power Point presentation was interspersed with expressive Chinese poetry readings and songs presented by the delegates, including a song from the famous Beijing opera, performed by Minnie Huang. The presentation concluded with a short video about their award-winning school in Qingyuan, with award-winning faculty, which features aviation, science, technology, sports, and student clubs.

On Thursday the Chinese delegates visited Mt. Shasta. They had lunch at Snow Creek Studios gallery, then spent the afternoon at the Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum enjoying a guided tour of the museum and a presentation about COS Student Services.

Thursday night was American culture activity night at COS. The COS-catered dinner consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, and apple crisp with whipped cream for dessert.

Homestay hosts Richard and Donna Farris explained that throughout the delegates’ stay in Siskiyou County, the Chinese educators were aiming to participate in the American experience, including forgoing the use of chopsticks in favor of using forks and spoons.

A student-created video about COS was shown after the American dinner. Then the delegates and their homestay hosts convened to the Black Box Theatre for a participational presentation of other-worldly music supplied by COS music teacher David Blink, who played the hand pan – a metal percussion instrument resembling, as one participant put it, “a UFO.” Blink, without a word, drew the captivated audience into contributing accompanying sounds with their voices, hands and feet.

A short workshop in creative dramatics followed, led by COS theatre teacher Neil Carpentier-Alting, during which he facilitated a series of classic improvisational theatre techniques. The assembled group caught on quickly, energetically acting out all manner of imaginative antics.

On Friday, the delegation split up into two groups. One group of 12 delegates went to the Yreka COS campus; and the other group of eight delegates went to Dunsmuir High School. After their Yreka and Dunsmuir campus field trips, the delegates got to spend some free time with their respective homestay hosts before leaving the next day.

Richard and Donna Farris said their guests told them they wanted to go to a grocery store and buy food to cook for their hosts.

Terri Chen, delegation chaperone and program manager for Multicultural International Educational Programs, said the delegates she was staying with were going to go out with their homestay hosts “to try some Mexican food”… then go out “for beer” at Mt. Shasta Brewing Co. in Weed, then return to their hosts’ home to “play UNO.”

According to information provided in a written interview, Chen said, “Qingyuan Education Bureau encourages the development of an exchange program that gives Chinese teachers and students the opportunity to learn English and get to know people in other parts of the country and in different settings.” She said the delegation traveled “under Chinese government official passports” and the trip was “funded by Qingyuan Education Bureau of Guangdong Province, China.”