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Chinese Sister-School Visit to Union County

Both sister-schools hang this banner that combines the two countries’ flags and the two schools’ seals.

A large red banner hung over the entrance to Marvin Ridge High reading “Welcome! - 欢迎 - Huān yíng!”. Administrators from Nanjing, China had arrived to visit Union County Public Schools April 24 and 25. The four visitors came to UCPS at the invitation of Marvin Ridge High School, their sister-school. The Nanjing delegation included, Mr. Wang, Vice Principal, Mr. Shi, Middle School Director, Mr. Zhu, Elementary Director, Mr. Lu, Director of Teaching and Researching. The four gentlemen hail from a private school of 7,000 in the JiangNing suburb of Nanjing, a city of over five million people, west of Shanghai in southern China. The guests, from “High School Affiliated with Nanjing Normal University: JiangNing Campus” came with the specific request to learn more about creativity in US schools, competitive athletic programs and the UCPS Confucius Classroom program.

Lisa Justice, MRHS Assistant Principal, organized the visit with the support of a cast of teachers, students and administrators. Principals, Donna Cook, at Rea View Elementary, Scott Broome, at Marvin Ridge Middle, and Tim Conner, at Marvin Ridge High, warmly greeted the guests and proudly toured the visitors through a variety of classes including kindergarten instrument practice, second grade math hands-on exploration, fifth grade reader’s theatre, middle school science labs and laptop projects, as well as high school art sculpture, film, biology and health classes. The guests took hundreds of pictures, among them pictures of the children and students, hands-on projects, the small group work, SmartBoard activities, the international flags and softball games.

MRHS founding principal, Bill Cook, lead a small group to visit the Nanjing school in 2010 with hopes of cementing a friendly relationship. The first visit resulted from the UCPS membership in the Asia Society’s Confucius Classroom Network and North Carolina’s Center for International Understanding. Retired MRMS Assistant Principal, Marie Brickman, signed the sister-school agreement that continues to be featured on the Chinese school’s main web-page.

A MRHS hospitality team diligently planned to return the marvelous hospitality extended when 22 county teachers were so warmly received at the Chinese sister-school in July 2011. The Chinese guests were pleasantly touched at the local efforts to offer friendship and hospitality. With fascination, they listened to the MRHS Mandarin students present skits, poetry and songs. The delight continued when the Rea View third graders surprised them with the Chinese New Year song “Gong Xi Gong Xi”. Our guests sampled turkey for the first time at a Thanksgiving Day luncheon. They stood to sing along as the MRHS women’s chorus sang a famous Mandarin song. The MRHS Jazz Band entertained them while they experimented with forks and knives. The Welcome Evening was attended by Dr. Mary Ellis, Dr. Wanda Little, principals, MRHS teachers, county teachers who taught summer school at their school last year and our friends at the local Confucius Institute.

Although language was a barrier, the joy in our Nanjing guests’ eyes was apparent as they discovered a new country, new friends and the wonder of learning. Educator to educator, we connected. Educators from different worlds, we recognized that we all delight in the magic of children and their accomplishments. We couldn’t have been more touched by the warmth of our visitors, their inquisitive spirit and the kindness with which they treated us and our children. The Confucian saying rung true, “How delightful it is to have friends visiting us from afar!”



Written by: Donna Podgorny; World Language Curriculum Coordinator
Posted: May 29, 2012 by Michele Schellhorn

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