Monday, July 27, 2015

[010] Games and good times for Chinese students at MTSU President’s picnic

            Part of educational and cultural exchange between university,
                                Hangzhou-based education group

MURFREESBORO — The lawn of the MTSU President’s Residence turned into a picnic ground Monday for the 30-plus Chinese school children visiting Murfreesboro as part of an educational and cultural exchange organized by the university.

The visitors from Dongcheng Education Group of Hangzhou Normal University started the day at Overall Creek Elementary School, where retired Murfreesboro City Schools educator Elizabeth McPhee, the first lady of the university, arranged for them to explore American-style classrooms and meet with local teachers.

They returned to campus by midday for a picnic at the President’s Residence that resembled a pep rally with cheerleaders from Blackman High School and MTSU welcoming the group. Blackman cheerleaders did face-painting for the Chinese children as well, and a watermelon-eating contest followed lunch.

The head coaches from MTSU’s volleyball and soccer teams, Matt Peck and Aston Rhoden, as well as players from both teams, also led the visitors in demonstrations of both sports. The lawn featured soccer goals and a volleyball net for the occasion.

The children, ranging from middle- to high-school ages, clearly were thrilled by all of the activities, as was MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.

“What a beautiful day for a picnic,” President McPhee said. “It’s another great experience for our Chinese guests to treasure about their visit to our campus and our country.”

The group, led by former HNU President and Dongcheng Chairman Lin Zhengfan, left the picnic for a tour of the MTSU campus, then viewed science projects by Scales Elementary School students on display in the lobby of MTSU’s Science Building.

They spent Monday evening socializing with the families of Rutherford County students who visited Hangzhou last year as part of the annual reciprocal visits organized by MTSU’s Confucius Institute.

Teachers and administrators from both countries will huddle Tuesday to exchange ideas and swap classroom experiences, a feature that President McPhee said is the centerpiece of the visit. The delegation’s five-day trip to the U.S. ends Wednesday.

The Confucius Institute, named for the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, is sponsored by China’s Education Ministry to promote Chinese language, history and culture through tours, exchanges and university partnerships. There are more than 440 institutes in 120 countries.

MTSU joined with Hangzhou Normal to open its institute in 2010. The two partners recently extended their pact for an additional five years.

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