Here’s the thing about these China trips for teachers. I won’t call them useless, but no one who merely visits China for a week, especially when being wined and dined by Party-approved guides, is going to return to the U.S. with an accurate concept of what China is, or where China has been, or where China is headed. They won’t have seen real life in China. They will be shown the “elite” schools, and the shiny, beautiful places, and the museums with priceless jade artifacts that are older than American dirt. They will see the grandeur that was China and the new, modern, glossy facade.
If a teacher from Utah, or anywhere in the U.S. is going to take an accurate image of China back to the U.S. for their students, they will have to live here for a school-year, in an apartment where the government regulates the temperature of the buildings or single-room heating/cooling units are used. They need to buy their own meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner and figure out how they are going to manage personal hygiene in a country that doesn’t sell deodorant or tampons (as a general rule) or hairspray, and how to get the medicine they need when they get sick. They need to try to get by with internet service kindly filtered for their own protection by The Great Firewall, and they need to understand the logistics of using a squat toilet. They need to see all their movies on pirated DVD’s or the internet, and they need to make an attempt to locate and find a movie theater and pay the exorbitant price to get in and watch a show there. A teacher visiting here from the U.S. needs to experience what it’s like to teach classes 5 or 6 days a week from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. with 2 hour breaks for lunch and dinner, the way the teachers in the Chinese schools do.
You simply can’t get this sort of experience from a one-week, government-sponsored tour. Without it, you won’t have an accurate image of China. You’ll probably get lots of pretty pictures though.
winner-winner, chicken dinner 🙂