Durham-Middlefield schools’ Chinese partnership to begin with student visit

Durham-Middlefield schools’ Chinese partnership to begin with student visit

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Regional School District 13’s new international partnership will begin with a weeklong visit from a group of high school students from Ningbo, China this fall. 

Coginchaug Regional High School Principal Brian Falcone was joined by high school world language teacher Kate Germond, School Superintendent Kathryn Veronesi and Board of Education members Bob Moore and Norm Hicks on a visit to Tongji High School to sign a partnership program with the school in December. 

“It's so important to have our kids have an understanding of the world, especially when we're from (two) small towns in Connecticut, with very little diversity,” Falcone said during a presentation at a school board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9. “We are not looking for another field trip … we're looking to immerse our students into the culture and the community of Ningbo, China and be a part of Tongji High School.”

Region 13 is made up of students from Durham and Middlefield.

About 20 Tongji High School students will travel with a few teachers to spend a week at Coginchaug High School, which will plan its homecoming week to align with the visit in late September. The students will do homestays and take field trips to nearby universities, New York or Boston. 

In the spring, 20 to 25 Coginchaug high school students and teachers will do the same, staying with local families and other students in Ningbo, experiencing lessons at Tongji High School and visiting local landmarks such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City. 

“I think it will be a life changing experience for most of the kids that go there,” said board chairman Bob Moore. 

The administration plans to have more than just the older high school students involved by incorporating opportunities with younger students to do a custom STEM project with Ningbo students. 

Falcone said the December trip allowed them to negotiate the deal, but also to learn about the area, culture, and what Coginchaug High School students can expect. He believes the partnership has the potential to greatly impact students and adults alike. 

“When I found out that we were actually going to go there and work out this partnership and to achieve this contract for our students and our community, I was nervous, of the unknown,” Falcone said. “When we went to China and every single person we met was just so nice and wanted the best for our kids and for us throughout our experience, it really transformed my views.”

Falcone said the cost for students to participate in the week-long international visit will be about $2,700 per person. 

Twitter: @baileyfaywright


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