So apparently I need a Chinese name.
Mine is Zhu Liwei -- meaning “scholarly, elegant.” It was created for my trip next week to China on behalf of EdTA.
I have learned recently that over 100,000 students in China apply to U.S. colleges, and that number is growing by 30 percent per year. But apparently many don’t succeed and graduate. Some educators believe that’s because the educational culture in China is more about memorization and lecture. The students have a strong work ethic and are good at test taking but the curriculum is not designed to teach them how to think creatively.
Last fall, EdTA was approached by an educational management company who is interested in bringing our programs to China. This school network provides an international education to enable Chinese students to succeed in college in the U.S. They want to use theatre in high school to help Chinese kids learn the life skills we all preach—social confidence, cultural awareness, creativity, collaboration, etc. This company is sponsoring my trip to learn about the educational landscape in China, and a few leaders from their company will be coming to Lincoln this year for the Thespian Festival.
Why is this good for EdTA and how does it fit our mission? First of all, it represents a potential for growth. Anytime we grow it gives us more resources to continue in our quest of giving access to theatre education to every student.
Second, it brings diversity and stature to the International Thespian Society. Just being invited reinforces our authority in the field, and anything we develop for these new teachers starting out in China will help our newbies here.
If this initiative blossoms, it will open opportunities for our veteran teachers to grow in their teaching, to do exchanges in China and train teachers and work with students in a unique environment. If we can develop a programmatic model in China, we will have the experience and structure to expand to other parts of the world.
Finally, we all know that theatre shapes lives by teaching children empathy. That is our contribution to making the world a better place.
I’m excited about this trip and what it might mean for our future and look forward to sharing my experiences with you when I get back home.