GISD students learn Taiwanese culture, education first-hand

GARLAND, TX (April 4, 2015) Nine Garland ISD students, two administrators and one alumna recently had the opportunity to reciprocate an international exchange hosted by the district two years ago.  Thanks to the district’s partnership with the Dallas-Fort Worth Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce, the hometown group enjoyed an enlightening trip to Taiwan’s Luzhu District March 3-12.

“The rich educational experiences of this trip will never be forgotten or duplicated,” said Parsons Prekindergarten School Principal and participant James Howard. “These students have been exposed to an entirely different way of life, and I believe it has changed all of us for the better.”

As one of the host families in 2013, Howard was selected to attend the trip. He then helped organize it by working with high school principals to select students. After a rigorous application process, nine students and one alumna from five high schools secured a spot for the first-hand Taiwanese cultural journey.

During the visit, students experienced a real-life home setting with host families. They also toured Nankan High School, soaking in campus culture and student life. Nankan administrators were delighted to expose GISD students to typical courses, such as calligraphy, Chinese painting, handball and shooting. But the courses were not what left an impression on the group.

“Nankan High School students typically arrive at school at 7:30 a.m. and clean their classroom,” Howard explained. “They will stay at school until 5 or 6 p.m. every day. Many times, they will leave and come back to study some more later that evening. They also attend school on Saturday. It was amazing to see their dedication to education.”

And this once-in-a-lifetime trip was not all about campus life. Restaurant outings, scenic drives, sightseeing and visits to a temple and zoo were also incorporated, along with star-like moments.

“We were treated like celebrities,” Howard said. “The mayor even invited us to city hall for a press conference, which was an exciting time for everyone. We all had our picture taken and were made honorary citizens. However, one of the best days occurred when each student spent the day with his or her host family.”

Overall, the nine-day, eventful trip offered students a chance to develop academically and individually.

“After witnessing the growth that took place in the GISD students, it is clear to me that this trip has a very important place in this district. We live in a global society. The students who went on this trip came back with a better appreciation of our school system and those who have dedicated their lives to teach others.”

The following students, alumna and administrators participated in the trip.

  • Matthew Aragon – Sachse High School
  • Lynzi Carroll – Sachse High School
  • Steven Cave – Naaman Forest High School
  • Jacob George – Rowlett High School
  • Ethan Howard – Lakeview Centennial High School
  • James Howard – Parsons Prekindergarten School Principal
  • Jonah Johnson – Garland High School
  • Prescott King – Sachse High School
  • Calder McCarthy – Sachse High School
  • Rachel Sanders – 2014 Lakeview Centennial High School graduate
  • Deb Sanders – Luna Elementary School Assistant Principal
  • Nicole Teal – Sachse High School

Submitted by Caren Rodriguez, Garland ISD staff writer.

Story photo courtesy of James Howard.

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