BEIJING — Karmel Washington walked on the Great Wall during her trip to China as part of a MTSU delegation, but she said the trip became real when she learned about the country from kids her own age.
“No matter what all people say you’re going to experience, you have to basically see and experience for yourself,” said Karmel, a senior at Siegel High School. “We all have so many pictures and memories that will last a lifetime.”
Karmel was among a 28-member delegation, which included Rutherford County schoolchildren, parents and teachers, that traveled to six cities in China for two weeks in August. The trip was part of an ongoing cultural and educational exchange between the organized by MTSU.
It was the third such trip led by MTSU President Sidney McPhee and his wife, retired Murfreesboro City Schools teacher Elizabeth McPhee. The visit was part of the reciprocal exchange with Dongcheng Education Group of Hangzhou Normal University.
The delegation participated in enrichment activities, connected with Chinese families during home visits. They also visited cultural and tourist sites in Hangzhou; Shanghai; Qiandao Lake; Jiashan and the nearby ancient town of Xitang; and Beijing.
Also, Elizabeth McPhee, aided by teachers in the delegation, conducted a joint class for Chinese and American students, then hosted a workshop for Chinese teachers.
“What sets this annual exchange apart from other programs is our connection to the classrooms,” said President McPhee. “This is not merely a sight-seeing trip. We engage with families, attend classroom demonstrations and exchange ideas with educators.”
Rutherford students also visited China with MTSU in 2012 and 2014, and Dongcheng students came to Murfreesboro in 2013 and 2015.
MTSU's Confucius Institute, a joint effort between the Hangzhou and Murfreesboro universities, oversees the annual exchange. Families paid their travel expenses to and from China, but most housing and travel costs in country were covered by grants from Dongcheng and private donations.
Hanban, the international headquarters of Confucius Institute, also provided funding for the trip.
Other students on the trip were Sean Eastman; Gabriela Flowers; Michaela Flowers; Micah Owens; Daniel Owens; Emily Priestley; Elijah Rachell; Joshua Rachell; Makena Sanders; Chase Scott; and Megan Scott.