China Faculty Institute

Scenes from the inaugural CFI trip in summer 2015An especially electrifying milestone in CAIS philanthropic history was the Fund-a-Need paddle raise at ShowCAIS 2014 when the community jumped into action to send CAIS faculty and staff on professional development trips to China. In a matter of minutes, $300,000 was raised for the Fund for Teaching Excellence to fund trips. After months of careful preparation and planning, the inaugural journey of the China Faculty Institute took place in summer 2015. Led by Digital Chinese Initiative Project Manager Adam Ross, fourteen faculty and staff members traveled to Yunnan Province for an immersive experience that explored not only the beauty of western China but also the diversity of its many minority ethnic communities. Participants included Chiungwen Chang, Michele Douglass, Xiu Geng, Ya-ching Hsu-Kelkis, Annie Liu,Tiffany Long, Kaicy MacLeod, Xue Ping, Tracy Rackham, Kimberly Reid, Jill Rosenberg, Elena Vlad, Ying Wang, and Yanmei Yang.

Leaving immediately after graduation for three weeks, attendees shared their experience in close-to-real-time through prolific blog posts. At the start of the new school year, CFI “alumni” presented to their peers as part of CAIS Institute Week. From tales of mischievous monkeys and impromptu basketball games to impressive glimpses of a variety of educational settings, CFI attendees offered funny, poignant, and insightful reflections on their experiences in China.

The trip gave faculty and staff from different divisions and language focuses a chance to connect in an intensive and fun way. English-speaking faculty learned a bit of Chinese language and Chinese culture, and were able to apply it in simple tasks in China. Participants moved out of their comfort zone to interact across languages with each other and local people alike during the trip, and then to make presentations to peers on their return. Faculty were struck by the state of flux in the Chinese educational system and and discussed their own cultural assumptions as teachers. The trip gave all a chance to learn about minority cultures and issues in modern China, and opportunities to connect with Bai and Tibetan people in meaningful ways.

Learn more about teachers’ and staff members’ amazing CFI travels at their trip blog.