an exchange of language, culture, and a little something more

So we've heard a lot about Chinese-language programs sprouting up all over the United States, in some of the unlikeliest communities. Here's a recent New York Times story about another such program -- in Lawton, Oklahoma, of all places: Guest-Teaching Chinese, and Learning America.

In an effort to teach the world its language and culture, China's Education Ministry has struck up a unique partnership with the U.S., bringing 325 guest teachers who have volunteered to work for up to three years in American school, with their salaries subsidized by the Chinese government. The students appear to be learning a lot more than just language:
Ms. Zheng said she spent time clearing up misconceptions about China.

"I want students to know that Chinese people are not crazy," she said. For instance, one of her students, referring to China’s one-child-per-family population planning policy, asked whether the authorities would kill one of the babies if a Chinese couple were to have twins.

Some students were astonished to learn that Chinese people used cellphones, she said. Others thought Hong Kong was the capital.

Barry Beauchamp, the Lawton superintendent, said he was thrilled to have Ms. Zheng and two other Chinese instructors working in the district. But he said he believed that the guest teachers were learning the most from the cultural exchange.

"Part of them coming here is us indoctrinating them about our great country and our freedoms," he said. "We’ve seen them go to church and to family reunions, country music concerts, rodeos. So it’s been interesting to see them soak up our culture."
Obviously, there's teaching and learning happening on both sides. I've heard there are a lot of folks out there who are opposed to these programs, for fear of some kind of Communist Chinese brainwashing. I seriously doubt that.

If anything, there are just too many stupid kids out there with far too little exposure about what's going on beyond our borders. We have an abundance of stupid in the United States, and a little cultural exchange will go along way towards expanding our collectively worldview.

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