MURFREESBORO — Murfreesboro City Schools strengthened ties with a Chinese education group today (July 11) with an agreement facilitated by MTSU that promotes future educational and cultural exchanges involving elementary school students and educators.
Officials with Murfreesboro City Schools and Dongcheng Education Group of Hangzhou Normal University in China signed the memorandum of understanding this afternoon inside MTSU’s Student Union Building.
A similar agreement for middle school students and educators will be signed Friday morning involving Rutherford County Schools with an initial focus on Central Magnet School. Murfreesboro City Schools’ efforts have been led by the Discovery School at Reeves Rogers.
“MTSU is thrilled to facilitate this relationship in which best practices in teaching and learning can be shared between our cultures and institutions,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, a strong advocate of international education and collaboration.
The agreement, which will last for five years, seeks to:
- Promote institutional exchanges by inviting faculty and staff to participate in teaching and research activities, and professional development.
- Develop exchange programs, such as summer camps, in China and Rutherford County.
- Organize symposia, conferences, short courses or programs, and meetings on educational issues or other topics of mutual interest.
Representing the Chinese delegation at the signing was Lin Zhengfan, chairman of the board for Dongcheng Education Group. Lin initiated the cooperative relationship several years ago as president of Hangzhou Normal University when he visited MTSU and schools in Murfreesboro and East Tennessee to discuss collaboration between rural and urban schools in China and the United States.
With translation assistance from Guanping Zheng, director of the MTSU Confucius Institute, Lin expressed his gratitude to MTSU and the local community for seeking an expanded relationship with his institution.
“I treasure the collaboration and the exchange,” Lin said. “Such collaboration and exchange is strongly supported by my government. … We are not only doing exchange in students, faculty and community members visiting, but also we hope to have the opportunity to exchange our ideas and our thoughts about education.”
This week, Chinese students have visited the homes of local children, toured historic and cultural sites in Nashville and Murfreesboro and participated in educational workshops. Stops include the State Capitol Building, the Grand Ole Opry, the Stones River National Battlefield and Cannonsburgh Village. The visit ends Saturday.
“Today, our children live in a global village where their connections to each other cannot be ignored,” said Linda Gilbert, director of the K-6 Murfreesboro City Schools. “In fact, every day we hear that our nation's future depends on succeeding in the international economy. And at the core of that success is the ability to communicate and interact across cultures.
“The partnership we are establishing today will help our administrators, teachers, and children gain the necessary skills and abilities to achieve on a global scale.”
Following today’s signing ceremony, area and Chinese educators participated in a roundtable discussion about educational and leadership styles used in their respective schools and systems.
“Exposure to different cultures provides an excellent educational opportunity for our students,” said Don Odom, director of Rutherford County Schools.
“Our partnership with MTSU will mainly involve students at Central Magnet School for now, but we look forward to collaborating with MTSU and the Confucius Institute to look for ways to benefit all students in Rutherford County.”
The agreement can be renewed for another five years if all institutions agree.