This is a monthly newsletter from the Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning dedicated to Chinese language and culture programs in schools.

June 2015

In this Issue
2015 Confucius Classrooms Leaders Summit
CELIN Connection
TEQ Time
Online Resources
News and Opportunities Analyses, how-tos, lesson plans, and much more.

NCLC16: Save the Dates!

The 2016 National Chinese Language Conference will be held in Chicago, April 28–30. See highlights from past conferences at

2015 Confucius Classrooms Leaders Summit: Recap and Reflections

Last month, a group of school principals, world language supervisors and teachers from Asia Society Confucius Classrooms Network traveled across the sea to Shanghai for a week to learn more deeply about Chinese education systems, and to connect with their sister schools in China. The goal of this Leaders Summit was to offer knowledge and support to educators who aim to implement innovative exchange projects for their students and to build a more meaningful and in-depth school-to-school partnership. The program consisted of talks from experts, visits to exemplary programs in Shanghai, a forum to discuss common challenges, and concluded with a visit to their respective Chinese partner school. This summit was organized in conjunction with East China Normal University. In the following article, three participants from the Houston Academy for International Studies (HAIS) in Texas reflect on what they have gained from this expedition.

A Reflection on the 2015 Leaders Summit
By Melissa Jacobs (Principal), Jennifer Kapral (Dean of Instruction), and Sophia Baltz (Chinese Teacher)

What does authentic, cross-cultural collaboration look like? How, as adults, can we model this collaboration for our students? During the 2015 Asia Society Confucius Classrooms Leaders Summit in Shanghai, we had an opportunity to network with other schools from across the U.S. to share and brainstorm answers to these questions. Then, for the later part of the Summit, we worked closely with our partner school at the Heilongjiang Provincial Experimental School in Harbin, China to dive deeper into our five-year partnership. Read on!

CELIN Connection

Program Directory
We are excited to present the CELIN Program Directory, an online searchable directory of Chinese early language and immersion programs across the United States. Building on Elizabeth Weiss’ original collection of programs, this database aims to provide a way for the field to share information about programs and to learn from each other. Your school or program may already be included. You may update your school information or add a program by completing this online form. We will be in touch with you to verify the information. Once verified, we will post it in the program directory. We hope this tool will increase in value and utility with each additional entry. Please spread the word about the program directory!

Program Profiles
This month, we are pleased to post a Program Profile of Barnard Asian Pacific Language Academy located in beautiful San Diego, California, the only public school in the San Diego Unified School District that offers Mandarin immersion. In 2007, the school started a Mandarin FLES class. In 2010, the school launched a Mandarin immersion program for students in Kindergarten and Grade 1. Read on!

Ed Week recently published a post about study abroad that features programs profiled by CELIN. To see study abroad programs of specific schools profiled by CELIN, visit the Study Abroad section of CELIN at Asia Society. In addition, learn why it is important to gain valuable learning out of study abroad by connecting with classrooms back home through this Ed Week post.

–Shuhan Wang and Joy Peyton

TEQ Time

Instructional Videos for Chinese Language Teachers
Part of Asia Society's professional development series for educators, these instructional videos for Chinese language teachers aim to share best practices in the field of Chinese language teaching. Learn more.

This month, we are featuring Ms. Shiffon Theodorou's Classroom, a Grade 9 Chinese language teacher at Simsbury High School, CT. In the video below, you can see her in action in her classroom. You can also find her accompanying lesson plan.


Online Resources

Great LOL of China Video Series - Learning about China and Chinese Language in a Fun and Engaging Way
We are proud to curate this video series, Great LOL of China, with Jesse Appell, Beijing's funniest American comedian, as an effort to bring to light the diverse yet unique aspects of Chinese people and society. We hope these will pique your interest and lead to further inquiries and understanding about China, and all that it is reputed to represent. A new video will be released every other week. Enjoy and pass it on! For more videos, behind the scene photos and related blogs, visit


 Recognizing A Teacher of Excellence
Heidi Steele, Chinese teacher at Gig Harbor and Peninsula High School (PHS) (a member of Asia Society Confucius Classrooms), received the annual Karin Fellin Award in her district in honor of her many years of work teaching Chinese, and developing and sustaining innovative school-to-school partnerships. A letter from a former PHS student, now an alum, was the catalyst for considering Heidi for this award. In his letter to the superintendent he wrote,  “I recently attended the annual National Chinese Language Conference at which Heidi Steele was a presenter and attendee. This was the first time I had seen Heidi since graduating PHS...and this conference opened my eyes to how lucky I was to have Heidi in my life.”  Heidi is grateful to be a recipient of this award, "Receiving this award is a tremendous honor for me. Even more importantly, however, the award is a testament to the passion and dedication of my students who have embarked on a lifelong study of Chinese language and culture. I’m fascinated by the creative ways they weave Chinese into their education and careers.” Heidi also writes for Asia Society and shares her expertise and best practices on building school-to-school partnerships. Read her articles here.

 Student Ambassador of the Month
Yumna Naqvi, also known as 于娜, a sophomore in Wardlaw-Hartridge School in New Jersey (a member of Asia Society Confucius Classrooms) was selected by 100K Strong Foundation as Student Ambassador for the Month of April. As a student ambassador, Yumna has talked to her high school and middle school about studying abroad and also published an Op-Ed in her school's newspaper. She is proud of her achievements and feels like she is making a difference. Yumna reflects, "Even though the projects I've done have stayed within my local community, people have become more knowledgeable about the opportunities to study abroad in China that exist for them. The goal of 100K Strong Foundation is to improve relations between U.S. and China, starting with student exchanges, and if I can help to promote studying abroad even just in my local community, I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile." Yumna is excited about her upcoming trip to China in August and looks forward to being immersed in a new culture. She also plans to share her experiences with others when she returns from her trip. We wish her good luck!

Love for Mandarin Takes Lawyer on Life Journey
Clarissa Shah, a plenary panelist at the 2015 National Chinese Language Conference, recently reflected on her experiences studying the Chinese language and her encounters in China, where many people assume that she is from Africa. She believes that "Chinese became [her] vessel for creating cross-cultural dialogue that our world so desperately needs." Clarissa Shah is a linguist and Commerce Staff Counsel and Supply Chain Specialist at Emerson Electric Co. Read her full reflection here.

News and Opportunities from the Field

Rob de Picciotto joined Asia Society's Education department as the Assistant Director of China Learning Initiatives. Rob has been in cross-cultural education for his entire career. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in History, he traveled to Asia to explore the world. He has held a range of roles from teacher and academic manager to curriculum developer and marketer in several educational organizations in both New York and China. Rob also pursued an MBA at Tsinghua University toward the goal of starting an education consultancy in Beijing that provides soft skills training and cultural orientation for Chinese students planning to study in the U.S.

Beyond the classroom, Rob has pushed himself to experience new cultures and understand different worldviews. His decisions to study in the American Midwest and Europe, and to live and work in China, India, and Hong Kong all reflect Rob’s passion for understanding across cultures, reconciling differences, and helping others cultivate tolerance and perspective.

Rob is continuing this life-long effort through his contributions to Asia Society, where he works to expand the reach and impact of the China Learning Initiatives. Learn more about members of China Learning Initiatives here.

Career Opportunities at Asia Society
Our Education Department seeks an Assistant Director for Digital Strategy.

The Certificate Program in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (TCSOL): Columbia University's Teachers College is accepting applications for the 2015-2016 academic year! The TCSOL certificate program is a one-year program and provides state-of-the-art training in Chinese pedagogy and educational linguistics. This program is Ideal for pre-/in-service teachers aspiring to develop their ability to teach Chinese in different contexts. In addition to the one-year program, a two-week TCSOL summer program is also offered and will be held at the Columbia University's Global Center in Beijing in July 2015. Learn more.

The College Board's 2015 Chinese Bridge Delegation: The College Board's 2015 Chinese Bridge Delegation is a week-long program (November 9–18, 2015) in China to help educators start or strengthen their institution's Chinese programs and partnerships. Highlights include school visits, cultural activities, and educational workshops. Leaders from K-12 institutions are invited to apply for this unique educational trip to China. Priority application deadline is August 3rd. Learn more.

The Global Education Forum (formerly the PGL conference): Co-sponsored by Asia Society and Penn GSE, The Global Education Forum will be held on October 16 and 17 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The conference is an opportunity to engage in a critical conversation between K–12 and higher education educators about how best to prepare students for a global world. By attracting educators from around the world to discuss best practices, promising programs and research, the Global Education Forum will highlight the importance of learning with and from different education systems to help inform our own practice. Learn more.

Have a nice summer and see you in August!

We welcome your feedback and encourage you to share information that is of interest to the wider community. Please feel free to contact us at and forward this newsletter on to others who are interested in Chinese language and culture programs in the schools.

China Learning Initiatives Team
Asia Society
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