Deeper ThinkingConfidentWorld Ready

Making Global Connections, Part 1

I have never been to Asia before, so arriving in Hong Kong two weeks ago and making my way by car, high speed rail, and on foot to Guangzhou in mainland China marked the beginning of an incredible ‘first’ for me.  My purpose?  To source materials and furnishings to create the environment of a Reggio-inspired preschool soon to open in the Tianhe district of Guangzhou; as well as begin to train the educators on the philosophy of Reggio Emilia.From the moment I arrived my senses were flooded with new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes.  I could feel my mind trying to process everything I was experiencing and it was exhausting.  What is that? Why is that there?  What do you use that for? How do I do this?  All in a language I was yet to make sense of.  Not unlike a child.  So many questions in an effort to understand what everyone else around me took for granted.  The joy of travel – making the world new again.I was soaking up everything around me, with a particular emphasis on tasting many delicious new foods.  I was also trying to learn the language, which had little or no similarities to English.  In fact, there was a certain amount of disappointment that came with seeing and hearing things already familiar to me because they were an interruption to my cultural immersion.  The Global Village seems to include McDonalds, KFC, Toys R Us, H&M, and IKEA.  To be fair, I was happy to see IKEA.  As any Reggio-inspired educator can relate, there is comfort in seeing materials that will support the creation of a well-designed learning environment.New relationships have been forged during my visit.  Colleagues that were once faces on a Skype call, are now joining me around a table to discuss the Reggio philosophy.  Despite their own personal educational experiences, which sound militant at best, they are open and receptive to the Approach.  Each of them has some English, in varying degrees, and we rely on the Internet to translate what falls between us.  What doesn’t get lost is our common desire for children to experience their learning through a philosophy that develops so many valuable skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and making connections.  We all want to prepare children for a future we cannot begin to predict.  The reciprocity of our shared learning experiences speaks to the philosophy of Reggio Emilia and the importance of collaboration.  Following a morning of deep discussion on the values of the the philosophy, we spent time in the afternoon using chopsticks to illustrate some of the Chinese characters.  I learned over 26 characters that day!  The fact that there are over 6000 characters in Mandarin will not deter my efforts.  How wonderful to be learning from each other.  My sense is that this is the beginning of meaningful relationships coming from different directions towards a common purpose.I am taking great delight in developing my understanding of life in China through my experiences here; which only further illustrates the power of providing children with an education that also values learning through experiences.  I know that my ‘first time’ in China will never happen again, but I believe that this collaboration will continue to be a learning experience for all of us, and I look forward to the journey. #ReggioPLC #china2015

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