From One World to Another: An Interview With Steven Lee, from Chengdu Foreign Language and Experimental School

October 1, 2012

An Interview With Steven Lee

(Part One of a Two Part series on our Chinese Exchange Program)

Steven Lee sitting in on Ms. Shifrin’s Freshmen English class


Over the course of the past five years, the freshmen of Gould Academy have been venturing off to China, embracing the culture and to learn more about the Chinese educational system. The ninth grade Four point program, a student exchange program, gives the whole freshmen class the opportunity to have a cultural experience, while also giving Chinese students the opportunity to come to Gould the following year.


This last March, Gould created a pilot program that gave two teachers the chance to travel to China on a teacher exchange program, and now one teacher from China has opportunity to come here.


Steven Lee, an English teacher from the Chengdu Foreign Language and Experimental School in Chengdu, China, is currently spending two weeks here at Gould. He has joined classes ranging from Freshmen English to Blacksmithing, and different daily activities from rafting with the Outing Club, to going to the ropes course with the freshmen class.


I recently sat down with Mr. Lee, and asked him some questions pertaining to his Gould experience, and the differences and similarities between our schools.


What do you think is a key educational difference between our schools?


A key difference between our schools, is the size. There are a lot of advantages for a smaller classroom. More students will be taken care of by the teacher with a smaller class. This idea is impossible in China. It is easier in my foreign language school, than more schools in China, because we have two teachers to a classroom. In my English class I am one of two teachers, so I have about 36 kids, but here the most students in one class is about 15. So I think that is a big difference here, teachers can take care of there students better.


What is the most different and interesting thing you’ve done so far?


Well this is another big difference between our schools, your outdoor experiences. Chinese students don’t have this kind of opportunity. We don’t have a soccer field, baseball, golf, skiing; our students can either play basketball or ping pong. They don’t have enough space. There are about 4,000 students in our school. Gould students have outing club, hiking, and rafting. I got to go rafting, and I was so excited. It was my first time. At first I was afraid to try, but when I saw the other kids and teachers jumping in, and if I didn’t try I would’ve regretted it. These outdoor activities are my favorite thing(s) I’ve done.


How was going on the rope course with the freshmen? What stood out to you?


What stood out to me was there was so much teamwork, which I think is extremely wonderful for the children. At first at the ropes course they didn’t really know what teamwork was. But after a while they started to communicate, and really worked together, which was really meaningful.


Overall what shocked you the most at Gould Academy?


What shocked me the most was the relationship between the teacher and student.  All the teachers are so kind to the students, and the students really respect the teachers from the bottoms of their hearts. The atmosphere here is very harmonious, very good and very comfortable.


I know you’ve spent some time in different classes, what has stood out to you? 


I have attended many classes, and I think the classes are really creative. One thing that I have to mention is that students can use internet, which is one thing our students don’t have. We could never be sure if our students were paying attention, but here most of the Gould students are focused, and the teacher(s) are comfortable. They can talk freely with each other. The classmates also help each other, especially the international students. I was in Ms. Shifrin’s class and I was sitting next to a Chinese student, and he was having trouble and Kelsey leaned over and helped him with his computer. I think that’s really good.


When the chinese exchange students come next week, what do you want them to experience/ try? 


I really want them to try different things, like the ropes course the freshmen did. I would love for my students to do that. It’s so meaningful. Actually we always want to emphasize team work, and spirit, but (my students) just know the idea, they don’t know how to carry it out. But the ropes course for the freshmen, when I went there, was the most impressive thing for me. It was so meaningful. I tried three courses, and the last one I had to climb a pole, and then try my best to stand up and jump, and I made it! I can’t believe I did that. I never thought that would be something I would do, but with all the encouragement from the students and teachers, “come on Mr. Lee you can do it!” I jumped!


This Tuesday, as part of the exchange program, the Chinese students from the participating schools, will arrive on campus. Stay tuned for Part Two of the Chinese Exchange series.


4 Responses

  1. Avatar Judy Colaluca says:

    Courtney, your interview with Mr. Lee was interesting to read as your questions were well phrased. You gave me a snapshot of what the Chinese exchange program is like. Looking forward to reading Part #2. Keep up the good work!

  2. Avatar TeriLyn says:

    Nice Job Courtney!!

  3. Avatar Nicole Estrella says:

    Nice article Courtney. Mr. Lee has offered some great insight as to what he finds are the advantages of the american education system. Its also nice to see what the benefits of a welcoming and close knit educational community can be. For part 2 Id like to know his point of view on the study habit differences between American students and Chinese students.

  4. Avatar Sara Shifrin says:

    You certainly captured the ah-ha’s Stephen has had!

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