Stembridge experiences China

By Rebecca Pyun
Published: June 2010

Principal Joel Stembridge left for China May 2 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Jingshan High School in Beijing with interim superintendent Jim Marini, deputy superintendent Paul Stein, and North Principal Jen Price.

While there, he briefly met students and teachers who had left January 21 to perform in the celebration of the school.

Newton Public Schools and the Jingshan High School have been connected for over 30 years, with at least 20 student-teacher exchanges over the years.

While numerous families in Newton have hosted students and teachers from the Beijing school, Stembridge and other Newton administrators had the chance to visit China and reverse the roles.

“It was a really amazing opportunity for me, Stembridge said. “What stood out [were] the importance of the Jingshan school in Beijing, the over-the-top celebration and performance¦ and how the Chinese government is orchestrating urban renewal.

According to Stembridge, the trip consisted of two parts: the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Jingshan High School and a general tour of China, which consumed most of the trip.

After watching the celebration and performance at the high school, Stembridge had the chance to travel to the Henan province for site-seeing.

In Beijing, he visited an alumni gathering of the Newton-Jingshan exchange program, made an excursion to the Great Wall of China, attended the Intenational Education Forum, and shopped at the Pearl Market, among other activities.

His favorite part of the trip was the opportunity “to simply walk around and have a feel for how people are living now.

He also had the chance to travel to the cities of Luoyang, Anyang, and Kaifeng, where he visited several cultural sites, including the White Horse Temple, Shaolin Temple, and the National Museum of Chinese Writing.

“There was a night market in Luoyang, with food stalls and many booths with all kinds of items for sale, that was especially vibrant and authentic, he said. “The cultural sites were also amazing, but were so crowded that it was difficult for me to process and take it all in.

Stembridge will put his experience in China to good use in the school’s study of the book This I Believe 2 next fall.

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