Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Fulbright Presentation

Our Fulbright Presentation
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today was the International Education Task Force Plenary Session. This was the final session of the conference, and it we had a large audience. It was held in the Regal Palace VIP Room. The moderator of our panel was Jenise Englund, who is an International Education Consultant and the co-chair of the International Education Task Force. Jenise is the person who invited us to be
part of the panel for this conference.

In addition to us, other presenters included Ana Gil-Garcia, a Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, and Dr. Yun thi Hoang Nguyen, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Education at Hanoi National University of Education in Vietnam. Dr. Gil-Garcia spoke about the need for more global education at all levels: from University down into the primary grades, and Dr. Nguyen spoke about her work starting a master’s program to train educators in special education in Vietnam.

We were the first presenters on the panel, and we spoke about our research and our work on Malindi’s Journey (see our post #2!). We also spoke about the importance of teaching global education in our classrooms. We showed slides of our students at work – pictures of students from Young Achievers at work on projects about East Africa, and pictures of Odyssey students participating in workshops on Environmental Justice at Harvard with the Harvard Program in International Education. We spoke about the students’ learning as examples of how global education can be woven into different aspects of the curriculum in different subjects, and we connected this to the Superintendents’ Pathways to Excellence initiative in Boston’s schools.

We are happy to report that our presentation went really well! We had many people ask us questions during the comment period – they were very impressed by the students’ level of engagement and by the quality of their work. A number of people sought seek us out after the panel to compliment us on the presentation and the importance of our work for all students in the world. We traded business cards and ideas with several university
professors, researchers, teachers and teacher trainers.
Our paper and Power Point will be posted soon on the Fulbright conference website, and we will post the link as soon as it’s up.

That’s all for now! Much more to come!

在 见
zài jiàn!

Lucy and Alicia

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Eating! 吃 饭

Hello Everyone!

Our posting today is about food! Here is some important vocabulary:

好 hǎo good
吃 chī eat
饭 fàn food
不 bù no, not
筷 子 kuàizi chopsticks

吃 饭
chī fàn eat food

好 吃
hǎo chī tasty; good to eat

We attended the opening banquet and reception for the conference on Monday night. It was held next door at the Regal Palace Theatre Restaurant. The hall had many big round tables, each with a “lazy susan” (a revolving tray) in the center. Each dish of food is brought out and placed on the lazy susan, and everyone around the table can spin it around to take food from each dish!
We had 10 courses, plus dessert! We were so full afterwards, we didn’t think we’d be hungry again for a long time, but sure enough, we woke up early to have a big breakfast! Our stomachs don’t understand that we’re in a different time zone!
Here is our menu:

Here are some things we ate:

We have found a great little restaurant down the block from the hotel, where lots of local Beijing people eat. The food is much better that the hotel food, very fresh and 好吃! It is also very inexpensive.
Here we ate:

Spicy tofu with ground pork
(ma po do fu)

Spicy chicken with peanuts
(gong bao ji ding)

Mongolian spicy lamb
(Alicia's favorite - on a bed of fresh cilantro!)

Green vegetables

Next time you order some Chinese food, try using chopsticks. And remember:
中 国 饭 不用 筷 子 不 好 吃!
zhōng guǒ fàn, bù yǒng kuài zi , bù hǎo chī !

"If you don't use chopsticks when eating Chinese food, it just doesn't taste good!"

Tuesday night we attended a cultural performance at the Do Yuan Theater. It is in the center of Beijing around the corner from the Forbidden City, in a beautiful old building with traditional Chinese architecture.

Here are some pictures:

We have a video of the performance , but we couldn't upload it...we'll try again later!

Much more to write, but it's after 2 in the morning (what time is it where you are if it's 2 a.m. here?) and we have to sleep!

Two more days and we come home. so much more to write about!

再 见!

Zai jian!

Lucy and Alicia

Science and the Environment

Science and the Environment
Tuesday October 21, 2008

Hello Everyone!

Today is a full day at the conference. This morning we attended the panel discussion called “Science and the Environment.”

The presenters talked about how we can use science to save our environment. Dr. Hamroush, Scientific Affairs Advisor at the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, said that global warming is a problem for all countries in the world. He said that the only way we will find solutions to these problems is for countries to cooperate with each other. One of the things all the presenters talked about was the importance of planting more trees to help the soil and clean the air.

We learned about a program called “Roots and Shoots,” an international environmental education program for young people. They have programs teaching students in Mongolia to plant trees, and teaching students in Shanghai to plant organic gardens.

Here’s the link to the “Roots and Shoots” website - it’s in English and Chinese!

Check out the carbon footprint calculator on their site!

We spoke with Zee Zee Zhong, the Operations Director for the program. She was interested to learn from us about environmental education n in the Boston Public Schools. We told her about the “From Farm to Market” curriculum at the Young Achievers School, the Mission Hill School connection with the Farm School, and the environmental education courses at Odyssey High School, where Lucy teaches. We also told Ms. Zhong about Mayor Menino’s “Grow Boston Greener” project to plant 100,000 trees in Boston by 1020.

Here’s the link to the Grow Boston Greener site:

In fact, last weekend while we were traveling to China, there was a tree-planting event and a tree give-away in Roslindale on Saturday, October 18th. Did any teachers or students and families go to that event? If you did, let us know! Share your pictures with us!

Here’s a shout out to Mr. Dionne at the Hurley School, and the science teachers at the Orchard Gardens School, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Pringle: some of these sites will help connect your students’ science work learning to other students around the world.

We traded business cards and look forward to staying in touch with Ms. Zhong and learning more about “Roots and Shoots.”

Mini-Language lesson

In Chinese, a word is called a character.
Each line of the character is called a stroke.
Students here in China practice writing characters with a calligraphy brush and black ink.

Here is the Chinese word for tree:

木 mù tree

Doesn’t the Chinese character for tree look like a tree?

To learn to write this character:
1. click on the link
2. find the alphabet, and click on the letter M
3. from the list of words beginning with M, click on the blue character mù
Be careful - there’s two words “mu” - make sure you choose the right one!
4. In the top left hand corner you watch how to write the character stroke by stroke.
5. On a white piece of paper, use a black marker and practice writing it.

How many strokes are there in the character mù ?
Can you write the strokes in the same order that you see on the website?

Here’s a shout out to Ms. Mao: you are doing great work teaching Chinese language to students at the Ellis, Farragut and the Jackson Mann Schools in Boston! 很 好!
Mao 老 师, here's a great website for students to practice chinese characters and pin-yin.
Students can put in the pin-yin and find the character, and you can put in pin yin and get the tone marks! (They must know what word they are looking for)

We are using this website to put characters on our blog!
(Thanks to Brandon Syms, a brilliant graduate of Odyssey High School, now attending Boston University, for sharing the Chinese tools website!)

Literacy Connections for Elementary Teachers:
The author Huy Voun Lee has a whole series of book for young children with simple Chinese characters and great illustrations. Some of them are: At the Beach, In the Leaves, In the Snow, In the Park, and 1-2-3 Go!

You can blow up pictures of the characters from these books and place them on an easel. You can set up a table at the writing center with copies of the characters on the table, for kids to practice writing characters during center time. They can use markers, or brushes and black paint.

Find the books in the library and have students read them during reading center time.

Geography Questions and Activities for Students:

Places to find on your classroom map of the world:
· Cairo, Egypt
· Shanghai, China
· Mongolia
· Put a piece of yarn around each country.

· Write the character for tree (木 mù ) and place one on each city of the places that you have found on the map.
· Where is Mongolia in relation to China?

· What is a carbon footprint? According to the website, what can people do to make their carbon footprint smaller?
· Can you calculate your carbon footprint?
· What can you do to make your carbon footprint smaller?

Did you know that the National tree of China is the ginko?

What are the national trees of all the countries that you have marked on your world map so far?

Check out this website of the Tree Network to help you:
Click on the countries on the world map to learn more about trees of each country.
That's all for now.
再 见! zài jiàn!
Good bye! See you later!
Lucy and Alicia

Monday, October 20, 2008

What are we doing here in Beijing?

Dear Fellow Travelers,

We realized we should give you some background on our “Malindi’s Journey” Project, and why we are here in Beijing.

In 2001 we began our journey by traveling to Chinese cities on the Silk Road with Primary Source in Watertown, MA. We became curious about the role of Africans in the Silk Road traded. We read a lot about Chinese traders and European traders, but we couldn’t find any information about the African traders who traveled on the Silk Road over the desert and the ocean.

Then we learned about a giraffe who sailed from East Africa to China in 1414! She traveled by boat across the Indian Ocean on an mtepe, an East African boat built without nails. She also traveled on the Treasure Ships of Zheng He, the famous Chinese Admiral of the Ming Dynasty.
We learned that Ambassadors from the Kingdom of Malindi presented the giraffe to the Emperor of China as a special gift in 1414.

The Emperor who called himself Yong Le, had never seen a giraffe before. He was so happy and excited that he had a painting and a poem made in celebration of the giraffe’s arrival in China.
The inscription on this painting congratulates the emperor on the arrival of such an
auspicious beast. The giraffe is still used today by the Chinese government as a symbol of friendship and cooperation between China and Africa.

We decided we wanted to write a book for our students telling the story of this giraffe’s journey. When we began to write the book, we decided to call the giraffe “Malindi,” after the place she came from. Malindi is now town on the coast of Kenya.

In 2004 we were fortunate enough to travel to Malindi in Kenya to research Swahili culture, history and trade.
We gathered evidence of African connections to China by visiting museums and archeological sites,
and learning about Swahili boatbuilding. We also interviewed historians and storytellers from Malindi who knew about the giraffe and the visits of the Chinese.

We were able to do this thanks to funding from the Fulbright Foundation through Boston University, and a Fund for Teachers Fellowship and moral support from our schools.

In 2006 we were invited to present our research and classroom work at the Fulbright Conference in Morocco!
We finished writing our book Malindi’s Journey in the summer of 2007. It is now in the process of being published.

The Fulbright Task Force on International Education invited us back to present our book and our classroom work.

Now, here we are in Beijing in 2008 for the Fulbright Conference on “The Interconnected World.” Thanks to the Asian American Studies Program and the Confucius Center at the University of Massachusetts/Boston, who are supporting our work and made it possible for us to come to Beijing.

We will present on Wednesday afternoon at the International Education Task Force Plenary.

Here is a link to the description of the conference:

Here is a link to the conference program:

Our project is part of a larger vision of global education for our students, and it fits into the context of Dr. Johnson’s vision how to move BPS forward into the 21st century through global education at all levels. She has spoken of the need for our students to become global citizens of the world and the need for them to be dual language learners, so that they will be prepared for the opportunities that await them. This level of education will help close the achievement gap and opening pathways to excellence for our students.
Tomorrow we will attend sessions of the conference, and visit the International Book Store on Wangfujing Street!
That's all for now! We promise more stories tomorrow!
Zai jian pengyoumen!
Lucy (Meng Ru Shi)
Alicia (Ke Ling Si)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

We fly to Beijing!

你 好

We have arrived safely in Beijing. What a modern journey! Alicia and Lucy took separate flights, and each flight took a separate route over the earth to get from Boston to Beijing.

Lucy flew from Boston to Washington, D.C., then from Washington D.C. to Beijing. She boarded her flight at 9:30 a.m. in Boston, and arrived in Beijing at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Alicia flew from Boston to Los Angeles, then Los Angeles to Beijing. She boarded her flight in Boston Friday evening at 6:15 p.m., and arrived in Beijing at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Questions for younger students:
In what direction did Alicia and Lucy fly to get to Beijing? North? South? East? West?
Look at your classroom map. Find Los Angeles. Trace the pilot’s route to Beijing.
Find Washington, D.C. Trace the pilot’s route to Beijing. You can use two different colored yarns to show the two different routes: one for Alicia and one for Lucy.

After Alicia left Los Angeles, what ocean did she fly over to get to Beijing? Take another piece of yarn and make a circle around that ocean on the map.

What oceans did Lucy fly over to get to Beijing? Look at the maps that are posted here – they show Lucy’s route.

Now, go the classroom globe. In one color, put a circle around these cities: Boston, Los Angeles, and Beijing.

Using another color yarn, put a circle around the ocean between Los Angeles and Beijing.

Book resource: Me on the Map

Questions for older students:
How many miles did Alicia and Lucy each travel to reach their destination?

How is it that Alicia left L.A. at 1:40 a.m. Saturday and arrived in Beijing at 5:20 Sunday morning, but her flight from LA to Beijing was only 13 hours long.

How is it that Lucy left Washington, D.C. at 12:12 p.m. Friday, arrived in Beijing at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, but her flight from D.C. to Beijing was only 16 hours long?

Where is the International Date line? What happens when you cross it?

Clue: Use your classroom map and the internet. Here’s a good site to check out:

Extension: For classroom or after school geography clubs: make a big map, marking the oceans, the major cities, the routes taken, and the International Date line.

We had aisle seats, and no view out of the window, so the only thing we saw on the whole journey was the inside of the plane! Lucy took these pictures of the video map on the screen in front of her seat. It was fun to keep track of where we were over the earth. As you can see, Lucy's route flew north from the United States, over Greenland, then over the North Pole, and approached Beijing from the North.

After we arrived in Beijing, we had to go through Customs and have our Visas checked;

then we went downstairs we went to the train shuttle that would take us to the baggage area to collect our luggage. We liked that the signs were all in English and Chinese - it made it easy to figure out where to go. Everyone from the plane was crowding toward the entrance of the train -there was a big sign that told everyone to "RELAX" - there's a train every 3 minutes!

After we collected our luggage, there was one more really important thing to do before we could take a taxi to the hotel! Can you guess what that was?

We had to exchange money! China uses different currency than the United States. We had to exchange our U.S. dollars into Chinese Yuan. Another name for yuan is ren min bi [ren min bee]. Ren min means "the people", so ren min bi means something like "the people's money."

Here's a great link with more information about Chinese currency:

You can see pictures of the paper money and the coins. Check it out!

Questions for students:

Alicia and Lucy have $100.00 [US]
They want to exchange their US dollars for Chinese RMB.
How many RMB will they get?

Clue: Here's a good currency converter site -

Extension Activities:

  • Use some of the currency vocabulary to create a math word wall

  • Print out copies of the Chinese currency, and draw you own in your readers and writers notebook, or even your math notebook!

  • Who is the person on the 100 yuan bill? why is he important in Chinese history?

  • Compare and contrast: what is the same and what is different about Chinese and U.S. currency? Use a magnifying glass to examine the front and the back. Teachers: chart the responses on chart paper

Design your own currency: who would you put on the front and why? What would you put on the back?

{Alicia says she would put Barack Obama on a $100 bill. On the back it would say "Yes, we can!"}

It was easy to find a taxi, they were all lined up outside the airport. The taxi driver said "ni hao" to Alicia, and she answered back, "ni hao!"

Lucy learned Chinese in college, and was very excited to be able to understand and speak with people when she got here.

Language lesson #1:
Ni Hao means "Hello"
你 好

xie xie means "thank you"
谢 谢

Zai jian means "good bye"
再 见

peng you means "friend"
朋 友

Beijing is so full of modern tall buildings - lots of concrete and glass. There still lots of construction going on after the Olympic games. When Alicia first visited Beijing in 2000, still a lot of old houses. Alicia was excited when she noticed the Olympic clock. She thought, "oh my goodness, am I really back in China?"

And cars! Lucy lived in Beijing 20 years ago, and there were only a few cars then - mostly taxis. Only wealthy people owned their own car. Now, cars rule the road just like in the United States.

That's all for now - we're tired!

It's 6 a.m. Monday morning here - what time is it there?

More later today! Zai jian pengyou!