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MTSU, local students again share memorable exchange trip to China

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.”

President Sidney A. McPhee and Dongcheng Educational Group Chairman Lin Zhengfan exchange gifts at the closing ceremony for the MTSU educational delegation’s August visit in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

President Sidney A. McPhee and Dongcheng Educational Group Chairman Lin Zhengfan exchange gifts at the closing ceremony for the MTSU educational delegation’s August visit in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

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.

Micah Owens, a member of the MTSU educational delegation, is introduced on stage of the closing ceremony in August at the Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

Micah Owens, left, a member of the MTSU educational delegation, is introduced on stage of the closing ceremony in August at the Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

“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.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)

Megan Scott and Sean Eastman, members of the MTSU educational delegation, perform a Chinese dance during the closing ceremony in August 2016 at the Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

Megan Scott and Sean Eastman, members of the MTSU educational delegation, perform a Chinese dance during the closing ceremony in August 2016 at the Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

Students, faculty and staff of Dongcheng Education Group’s middle school in Jiashan pose for a group photograph with members of the MTSU educational delegation. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Students, faculty and staff of Dongcheng Education Group’s middle school in Jiashan pose for a group photograph with members of the MTSU educational delegation. (MTSU photo)

In this August 2016 photo, members of the MTSU educational delegation approach the entrance of one of Dongcheng Educational Group’s facilities in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

In this August 2016 photo, members of the MTSU educational delegation approach the entrance of one of Dongcheng Educational Group’s facilities in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

In this August 2016 photo, the skyline of Shanghai, China, on the Huangpu River as seen from the Bund, a famous waterfront area in the city’s central district. (MTSU photo)

In this August 2016 photo, the skyline of Shanghai, China, on the Huangpu River as seen from the Bund, a famous waterfront area in the city’s central district. (MTSU photo)

The MTSU educational delegation visited the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, as part of its cultural activities in the country in August 2016. (MTSU photo)

The MTSU educational delegation visited the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, as part of its cultural activities in the country in August 2016. (MTSU photo)

Members of the MTSU educational delegation enjoy a trip to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China, as part of their cultural activities in the country in August 2016. (MTSU photo)

Members of the MTSU educational delegation enjoy a trip to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China, as part of their cultural activities in the country in August 2016. (MTSU photo)

Students from Dongcheng Educational Group demonstration Chinese calligraphy for members of the MTSU educational delegation during an August visit to Jiashan, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Students from Dongcheng Educational Group demonstration Chinese calligraphy for members of the MTSU educational delegation during an August visit to Jiashan, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

MTSU educational delegation members join in a traditional Chinese dance during an August welcoming ceremony in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

MTSU educational delegation members join in a traditional Chinese dance during an August welcoming ceremony in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)