Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Can you guess what country in the world has the largest English speaking population?

The answer is… China.

Educators, administrators and community leaders in SAD 17, serving the Oxford Hills community of Maine, have recognized the increasing significance of Sino-American relations. One major question facing America today is: "How do we prepare our students for the rapidly emerging global environment that will be their world? Such a task is not easy, and requires thinking outside of the box… even outside of the country.

SAD 17 has thus developed a strong sister school relationship with Zhejiang Normal University Middle School in Jinhua, China. The program, under the initiative of social studies teacher Craig Blanchard, has benefited from the steadfast support and leadership of our high school, district and community leaders. In the past, both we and our partners in China have sent delegations of students and teachers to each other’s country and schools. Our next step creates a full semester teacher exchange program, so students in both countries can benefit from the instruction of a teacher from the other side of the planet.

That’s where I come in.

My name is Jason Long, and I am a history teacher at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. In 2005 I graduated from Bowdoin College and began my career as a teacher in our district. I am originally from Maine; in fact, parts of my family have lived around Portland for almost 200 years - the jetport was once our farm. While neither of my parents attended college, I nevertheless grew up in a home that valued education. It is this value that has given me every opportunity I have had so far.

I now find myself in Jinhua, China, the first teacher from our district to participate in this exchange. A teacher from our sister school, who goes by Max, is now teaching at Oxford Hills.

Each day I feel grateful to be here for this opportunity, and more and more fascinated by my experiences. There are some essential differences in the habits and culture of our daily lives, but I am most amazed by how fundamentally similar we are.

In the coming months I will, as clearly and honestly as I can, try to capture my experiences for your consideration back home. Feel free to comment and ask questions, as part of my purpose here is to try to bring China closer to you.


Anonymous said...

I think that it would be really cool to do something like that. I think that everyone should get the chance to go to a different country to learn new things. I like meeting new and different people and hope that one day that I might be able to go to a different country and meet people.

James said...

I'm an American living in Jinhua half the year. Thought it would be nice to get together and visit. I miss an accent that is more familiar.

please email me at