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Chinese Exchange Students – Norwin

chinese exchange students norwin

Chinese exchange students from Norwin learn martial arts at the Allegheny Shotokan Karate Dojo (Norwin Ninjas) in Irwin North Huntingdon

Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate played host to a group of 10-11 year old Chinese foreign exchange students.  The students are part of a cultural program through the Norwin School District.  One of their hobbies are martial arts, so they took up an afternoon of training at the dojo.

norwin chinese exchange students

Shihan Viola teaches Norwin Students

Joe Napsha:  Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018

A group of about 16 Chinese elementary and middle school students are expected to attend classes in the Norwin School District next month as part of an educational and cultural exchange program.

The visit was arranged after 10 Chinese teachers and administrators toured Hahntown Elementary and Norwin High School in February to see hands-on education in the district’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes.

“The Chinese are very interested in the Norwin School District. The Chinese took note of STEM education,” Superintendent William Kerr said.

The school board on Tuesday is expected to approve the cooperation agreement with International Foundation-EDU China of Beijing for its Youth Ambassador Program. The agreement with the Bejing international education consulting company runs through June 20, 2023, and will link Norwin with the two private Chinese schools — Peking University New Century School and Wenzhou Dalton Elementary School.

The Chinese students, who will be fluent in English, will live with host families and participate in Norwin’s academic programs during their three-week visit, according to the agreement. The IFA’s Youth Ambassador Program will pay the host school district $450 per student per week, including fees for the hosts.

Depending on the success of the initial exchange program, Kerr said another group of Chinese students could come to Norwin from late January through early February.

Kerr said the district hopes to have three Norwin educators travel to China in September and possibly in November. The details of those visits have not been finalized, he said.

Joe Napsha:  September 10, 2018

Two Norwin teachers and the school district’s superintendent are scheduled to travel to Shenzhen, China, on Sept. 15, to promote teacher and student communications, educational and cultural exchanges, and collaborate to develop global awareness for teacher exchanges and study.

Superintendent William Kerr will be joined by Hillcrest Intermediate School teachers Trisha Brunazzi, the gifted and STEM education coordinator, and Thomas Swenson, fifth-grade English language arts teacher, on the five-day visit. They are scheduled to return home Sept. 23.

Kerr has established a professional working relation with the Chinese based on a visit of 10 Chinese educators in February to Norwin High School and Hahntown Elementary School to observe an innovative STEM education program.

A Chinese company, the International Foundation Alliance-EDU China, invited Kerr and the teachers to showcase Norwin’s educational programs and services to foster a Chinese-American program. The company organized the trip and is paying for the Norwin educators, the district said.

In Shenzhen, a city of about 12.9 million people, the Norwin educators will tour two schools per day, and speak to close to 100 local public school principals as well as Chinese government leaders at a regional conference. Business associates interested in building schools in America will be at the conference, where they will share professional development and best practices for teaching.

In addition to learning about China’s nationwide, standardized curriculum,” Kerr said it would be a great opportunity to showcase Norwin and its educational programs at a National Conference of Elementary and Secondary Principals in the People’s Republic of China.

Brunazzi recalled the Chinese delegation’s visit to her classroom in February to observe STEM activities that highlighted innovation and creativity in her classroom. She immediately knew she wanted to be part of the program to learn from them.

“I am honored to represent Norwin in such an amazing educational experience,” Brunazzi said. “This will be such a positive step toward an important partnership to promote global education.”

Swenson said he anticipates the visit will be “equally rewarding for all involved.” He said he looks forward to sharing the teaching that occurs in Norwin, “while learning and experiencing the teaching styles and environment of the Chinese education system,” Swenson said.

After the Norwin educators return home, the school district will host up to 40 students in fifth through eighth grade from the Shenzhen Tianjian School in China. The Chinese students will visit Norwin beginning Sept. 30 through Oct. 20. Their trip includes educational tours of New York City, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., but their stay in Norwin will be the focal point of their journey before returning to China. The Chinese students will stay with Norwin host families and will participate in regular academic programs and daily schedules.

Brunazzi and Swenson — who are national board certified and considered to be master teachers, demonstrated an early interest in the Chinese Youth Ambassador Program and will be an integral part of the Chinese students’ visits and activities at Hillcrest Intermediate School and Norwin Middle School.

IFA-EDU CHINA will provide a stipend to Norwin and homestay families for tuition fees, homestay fees, and program costs.

In November, three Norwin educators are scheduled to travel to China for additional educational and cultural exchanges. Led by Natalie McCracken, assistant superintendent of elementary education, the second trip tentatively includes Heather Newell, Sheridan Terrace Elementary School principal, and Angela Mazur, Norwin High School English teacher.


Joe Napsha:  Monday, March 19, 2018

Norwin plans to do its small part to improve cultural and educational relations with China this fall by allowing up to 40 sixth- and seventh-grade students to attend Norwin intermediate and middle schools for two weeks, while a group of Norwin educators would go to China under an agreement reached last week.

“The intent is to open up lines of communication with China,” Superintendent William Kerr said about the Youth Ambassador Program sponsored by the International Foundation Alliance–EDUChina, a Beijing-education consulting service. The Chinese students — they will be fluent in English — would attend the Norwin schools for two weeks in October, Kerr said.

The “Friendship Agreement” the Norwin School Board approved links Norwin with the Peking University New Century School and Wenzhou Dalton Elementary School, two private schools in China. The agreement does not specify the Chinese students’ participation in classes at Norwin, but says formal agreements might develop into education and culture exchanges, as well as student communication and collaboration.

The Youth Ambassador Program will give students an opportunity to develop a global awareness so they can learn from each other. A friendly relationship with the Chinese schools will help to promote cultural understanding toward “developing globally competent students who possess the ability to collaborate as international individuals,” the agreement states.

As a prelude to the Chinese students coming to the United States, a small group of Norwin educators would be invited to China at the end of September, Kerr said.

Kerr has been invited to lead that group by Timothy Glasspool, director of IFA–Pittsburgh, a division of IFA-EDUChina. Kerr said Monday that it would depend on the cost and school board approval.

Glasspool said Kerr and a few administrators would join him in a visit to several Wenzhou schools.

The Norwin group would see the schools, parents and students who will participate in the Norwin Youth Ambassador Program this fall, he said. The contingent also would meet with administrators and Chinese Education Bureau leaders to discuss best education practices in the two nations, under the belief that educators in both countries can learn from each other, Glasspool said.

The approval of the agreement comes on the heels of a Feb. 8 visit to Norwin by a group of about 10 Chinese teachers and administrators from the two schools. The delegation toured Norwin High School and Hahntown Elementary School to see how teachers are facilitating hands-on, student-centered learning. They also observed the district’s STEM classes — science, technology, engineering and math.

In order to host student exchange, Norwin will seek enough families willing to have the Chinese students and educators live with them for up to two weeks, Kerr said.

IFA’s Youth Ambassador Program will pay the host school district $400 per student per week, while the IFA-Pittsburgh recommends that school district pay the host families $200 per week per child or educator, according to the IFA website.


About the author: Bill Viola Jr. is Amazon best-selling author and creator of the award-winning Sensei Says® life skills curriculum. He experienced the "Golden Era" of MMA firsthand as his father, Bill Sr., is credited as the co-creator of the sport of mixed martial arts in 1979. His book Godfathers of MMA inspired the critically acclaimed SHOWTIME film Tough Guys where he acted as a producer alongside an Academy Award accredited team. The Viola family owns and operates Allegheny Shotokan Karate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania now celebrating their 50-year anniversary (1969-2019). He is currently the President of Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp. bill@kumiteclassic.com • Connect LinkedIn #senseisays #sokepokey #martialwayist