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Isenberg Elementary School teacher goes global in China

Go Global N.C.

SALISBURY — Anthony Johnson, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Isenberg Elementary School, traveled to China this summer as part of a delegation of 35 teachers from across North Carolina.

Because Johnson was the 2017 Southwest Regional Teacher of the Year, he received the 2018 Southwest Education Alliance award to support his participation in Go Global N.C.’s Global Teachers China 2018 professional development program.

“Our Global Teachers program provides comprehensive domestic workshops and an immersion experience in a different country every year,”said Nicholas Rau, director of education and training for Go Global N.C. “We select a country that has a significant impact in North Carolina and the world or that is known for best practices, especially in education, that we can study and apply in our state. In 2018, we chose to study China because it is the world’s second-largest economy and North Carolina’s third-largest trading partner.”

Go Global N.C. is part of the University of North Carolina System.

Johnson began his journey from Salisbury on June 16 with a flight from Charlotte to Washington, followed by a 14-hour flight over the North Pole to Beijing.

“One of my first observations of flying into Beijing was seeing how big and widespread a city is when it is home to than 22 million people,” said Johnson. “I saw skyscrapers, cars, motorcycles and bicycles for as far as the eye can see.”

Shortly after arriving in Beijing, Johnson and a few other teachers decided to go for a walk to get a feel for the city before they had their first formal learning session that evening.

“There were a lot of stares and photos snapped of us,” said Johnson. “Within a few minutes, a lady asked to have her picture taken with me. When I agreed, a line formed for others to do the same.”

Johnson was frequently asked by Chinese residents to have his photo taken wherever the delegation traveled in the country, including Beijing, Nanjing and Chengdu.

“A large segment of their population had never seen an African-American in person,” Johnson said. “Several wanted to rub my skin after getting their picture taken. It was a unique way I could give others a positive experience with my culture while I was learning about theirs.”

In addition to learning about the country and culture, the teachers focused on technology, environmental sustainability and approaches to education that gave teachers new ideas or solutions that will be useful in their own classrooms, schools or districts.

Johnson and other participants gained insight into China’s history, culture and physical environment; learned about conservation efforts to protect rare animals and environment; explored how China’s educators use technology in their classrooms; and studied alternative education as a method of building a ready workforce

“Exploring China’s education system and connecting with teachers was the highlight of the experience for me,” said Johnson. “During our 11-day immersive learning experience abroad, we visited four schools. The teachers and administrators are no different from educators here in the United States and North Carolina. We all share the common goal of educating and doing what is best for our students.”

Another memorable experience for Johnson was the chance to try new food.

“The food in China is amazing, and I have become an expert in the use of chopsticks. Each region has their way of cooking with spices and ingredients,” he said.

The teachers were inspired to return to North Carolina with new knowledge and skills that will benefit their students.

“I am looking forward to having my students collaborate on projects with students in China and other countries around the world,” said Johnson.

To see more about Johnson’s experience, follow him on Twitter or check out the Go Global N.C.’s website section dedicated to the trip.

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