Global education: Learning about the Chinese, their culture and language

The importance of global education is not a secret in preparing our youth to become future leaders in a globalized world, China is a good starting point for this type of education.

It’s no secret that global education is an important part of preparing youth to become future leaders in a globalized world. An important aspect of youth global leadership is having a strong level of competency in culture; this includes knowing and appreciating the culture of others. Youth are generally introduced to other cultures in school, usually in global studies, history and language courses, the most common language courses being Spanish, French and sometimes Mandarin. Learning about China or “Zhongguo,” the “Middle Kingdom” is a great place to begin global and cultural education.

A recent article written by Tom Watkins, “Learn Chinese!”, highlights how Gov. Snyder in his State of the State address will call for teaching Chinese history, culture and language in all Michigan schools. Watkins explains that in moving forward, all global issues will intersect at the corner of America and China. We cannot ignore the Chinese – one-fifth of all the people on the planet!

Since 1988, Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan 4-H has partnered with China. One of the many significant efforts to come out of this partnership is the 4-H China Art Project. An article written by MSU Extension’s Betsy Knox illustrates the impact this project has on thousands of Michigan youth. Song Lize, who works with the Education Bureau of Binzhou City, Shandong Province, China and is also the Michigan 4-H China Art Project contact, highlighted three important purposes the art exchange serves:

  1. It allows each of the groups – the Michigan natives and the Chinese natives – to learn something about the other through their interpretation of the art work; through that interpretation, youth and adults alike connect with the other group when they take something away from the art work that resonates in their hearts and minds.
  2. It creates communication between the instructors and the youth in both groups.
  3. It inspires the formation of a friendship that is based on communication and understanding.

What better way to start off the 2013 New Year – the Chinese zodiac “Year of the Snake” – than by gaining global education from learning about China?

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