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Chinese teachers come to Janesville for cultural exchange program

Published On: Mar 13 2013 07:21:13 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 13 2013 09:12:42 PM CDT

JANESVILLE, Wis. -

A new initiative in Janesville is creating an unexpected education partnership as two teachers from China temporarily join the Janesville School District.

The teachers are just the first step in a cultural exchange which will include 20 Chinese students in the future.

On Wednesday, Steven Cheung was getting acclimated with his new classroom at Harrison Elementary School.

"This is my first time, my first experience in the United States," Cheung said.

He's one of two teachers joining the Janesville School District from China. They'll be teaching the students about their culture.

Jessie Hou will be working at Madison Elementary School.

"I'm really looking forward to cooperating with the colleagues in America, and I'm really looking forward to learning something new and something different from here," Hou said.

Julie Decook, the district's world languages coordinator, said the guest teachers will be observing and participating in classroom instruction.

She said Janesville was highlighted as one of the top 100 Chinese-language programs in the country. District officials said they hope Cheung and Hou are the first of many teachers to come to the district in the future.

"To form some international bonds, to hopefully gain some knowledge about math instruction, which we do believe the Chinese do very well," Decook said.

Hou's daughter, Fiona, is joining her in Janesville and is already embracing western culture.

Cheung said he is excited to share his passions with the students and hopefully take in some sights.

"At the end of this visit here, maybe I will go to Yellowstone Park and drive to Los Angeles and enjoy the beautiful American view," Cheung said.

The two teachers will be working in the district for the next six months. Both of the teachers adopted western first names to make it easier for the students and staff to pronounce their names. Students from China will also be visiting Janesville this summer.

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