As far as the metro, uphill hike, commute to Yu-Ying is concerned, one word–exhausting. Among the scattered silver linings was that the escalators were temporarily out of service which reminded me of a Mitch Hedberg quote, “An escalator can never break, it can only become stairs.”
Yu-Ying definitely lived up to its name which means “nurturing excellence” by providing students with a full Chinese immersion and IB program at such an early age. The kids rotated between Chinese one day and English the next which, having taken a semester of Chinese at William & Mary, is nothing short of mind blowing. The comprehension and response time these children presented in their classrooms was inspiring to say the least. Yu-Ying students at each level explore and demonstrate characteristics of the IB student profile such as risk-taking, open-mindedness, reflection, and caring under an inquiry style of instruction. I found this style most attractive because the students are first encouraged to reflect and solve the topic themselves, next with their peers, and finally the instructor provides them with the primary concept. In short, students are encouraged to think for themselves rather than regurgitate the “correct answer” dictated by their teacher. Throughout the different grade levels the students evolve within the transdisciplinary themes:
Who we are-rights and responsibilities of being human as an individual and member of a community
Where we are in place and time-related to personal and societal histories
How we express ourselves-through language and the arts
How the world works-the physical and material world with relation to science and technology
How we organize ourselves-in systems and communities and the impact on the world around us
Sharing the planet-with other people and living things given finite resources
With this motif guiding the inquiry style of education, Yu-Ying was indeed saving lives by giving the gift of education.
The disheartening part of this site visit would become a theme throughout the rest of this course: Given the success and positive impact of these programs on students, why can’t America as a nation invest the time and resources into education? While politicians may verbalize the importance of equality, world class education, and the societal benefits, the best indicator of what a country values lies in what it spends money on. However, as we dive further into this Urban Education seminar, the seemingly endless layers of stakeholders and external factors reveal why education reformation moves at such a glacial pace because the answer isn’t black and white.
After the eye opening visit to Yu-Ying, I collapsed onto my bed in complete exhaustion both physically and mentally. Later that evening as I ate my Chinese and watched my roommate feebly limp around the apartment, a wave of humility brushed over me. To live in Washington D.C., even if only for ten days, and witness education at the ground level inside the classroom and on Capitol Hill is such a huge privilege that will not be taken lightly. Wherever our paths may take us in the future, experiences like this are what linger for a lifetime. The fortune for the evening was: You are heading in the right direction. Coincidence, I think not.