Students on the Move: Early College in China

THE FAIRVIEW TOWN CRIER | Updated: 2017-03-07

When a small voice says, “You can do this!” sometimes you need to listen. That’s what Dr. Donna Lanahan, new Principal at Buncombe County’s Early College, learned this year. She thought, “I’d like to do something bold - I’d like to send one or two of our students all the way to China.”

It seemed impossible that Dr. Lanahan could send even two students from his small, unique, AB Tech-based high school program to the other side of the world. But she had grant funds, she had the support of our school system, and with other faculty and school leaders, they found a way to make it happen. But it wasn’t just one or even two students: thirteen students and two teachers made the multi-city trip.

At our February School Board meeting we were privileged to hear a presentation from two of the thirteen Early College students who travelled to China in January . They were participating in the pilot of the Advantage Program co-hosted by the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education, key Jiangsu universities and RHT Education.

Kimberly Guevara and Sam Carlson, the two students presenters, could not have been more enthusiastic about the experience. They told us all about it, it including the eight universities and seven corporations that they visited over the course of the twelve days there. In addition to these opportunities to connect the worlds of education and work in China, they saw important cultural landmarks, including the Confucius Temple and Nanjing Massacre Museum. They learned about water conservation, geology, hotel management, videogame production and much, much more.

What we heard from these two students, though, was not just a travelogue. This was clearly a life-changing experience. They were exposed to more than Chinese culture: they made friends with fellow students travelers from Australia and the Netherlands as well. Sam said, “This experience changed us as students and as people. I see a lot more opportunities outside of the U.S., and I’m interested in going back for an internship or even for college.”

Dr. Lanahan echoed this perspective, saying “BCEC students were immersed not only in Chinese culture and language, but they were able to make curricular connections with science, technology, arts and history. Students and teachers alike were able to explore what it means to be ready for international colleges and careers. This trip to China and other global education opportunities like it provide students in Buncombe County with promising new perspectives on our world and their futures.”

With international trips, dual language classes, cultural programs and many other opportunities, Buncombe County Schools places a particular emphasis on global education for our students. The newly adopted Direction for our school system is as follows: “Our students will become successful, responsible citizens in an ever-changing global society.” As Superintendent Tony Baldwin stated at the meeting, “Global education is now more important than it’s ever been. Thanks to emerging technologies we have new bridges between Buncombe County and countries around the world. How can we expand these opportunities?”

Dr. Lanahan and her team found a way to dream big and make that dream reality. I hope we can find many other such wonderful opportunities in the Reynolds District and across all Buncombe County Schools.

“This experience changed us as students and as people. I see a lot more opportunities outside of the U.S., and I’m interested in going back for an internship or even for college.” – Sam Carlson students presenter