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Teacher of the Year is online in China

July 01, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Washington County's Teacher of the Year is on-line in Asia.

Evelyn Williams, a South Hagerstown High School social studies teacher, is one of 24 educators participating in a field study in China and Hong Kong this summer. They were chosen to improve the quality of teaching about Asia in the United States.

While the group is abroad, the folks back home can keep in touch over the Internet and catch glimpses of the trip.

The group posts daily images and information on a web site, http: www.yale.edu/pieris/lessonsfromchina. It features photographs and an electronic postcard that tells what the teachers did that day.

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For example, one photo shows Williams smiling and standing in front of the group as they prepared to leave Los Angeles at 11:55 p.m. Saturday. They arrived 5:55 a.m. Monday, and the first post card asks, "What happened to Sunday?"

On the first day, they brushed up on their Chinese etiquette. They are now in Jinan and will go to Beijing on July 7. Their itinerary as well as daily lessons are also available at the web site.

A look at the skyline of Shanghai's Pudong district at dawn is a click away. The postcard describes how the group discussed the role of language in communication and Chinese culture.

In order to join the study, Williams and the group had to learn some 8,000 Chinese characters and be functionally literate in that language. Last summer the teachers went to New Haven, Conn. to study aspects of China, including the country's history and geography.

The Yale University program in International Educational Resources started the two part project, "Teaching About the New China." It is funded by the Freeman Foundation and involves a curriculum development program after the trip.

Williams read about the program in a trade magazine and applied. She was picked from a pool of more than 200 applicants. The names of the teachers selected are available at the web site. Each of them has a Chinese nickname (Williams' is "Wei Wei") and they learned each other's on the first day of the trip.

While they are traveling, the group can get e-mail messages through the web site. Their journey ends July 27 when they return state-side.

Wei Wei will no longer be away.

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