The Racquet

UWL’s 10th China Town Hall

Marissa Widdifield, Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion Reporter

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On Tuesday, Oct. 9th the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse held an event in room 1303 Centennial Hall for students, staff, faculty, and community members to listen to the 12th annual China Town Hall interactive webcast that began at 5:45p.m. The event also included a local discussion with a teacher from Luoyang, China and La Crosse School District teachers who had the chance of teaching abroad in Luoyang starting at 7p.m.  

The event was hosted by the La Crosse Luoyang Friendship Association, UWL’s International Education and Engagement office, and the National Committee on U.S.-China relations. 

Although this was the 12th annual China Town Hall, this was UWL’s 10th year participating along with 100+ other venues across the United States and Greater China. China Town Hall has two purposes—one being an interview with a national webcast speaker and the other being a local on-site presentation about a China-related topic chosen by the venue and presented by a “China specialist.” 

Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state and national security advisor, was the featured speaker this year. Rice began her interview by describing herself as a “friend of China.” She spoke for an hour, answering questions from Stephan Orlins, the National Committee President, and from tweets that addressed the China Town Hall by using the hashtag: “#cth18.” These questions explored the relationship between the United States and China. 

After the webcast, Bai Yang Yang, who wished to be addressed as “Ivy” in America and is on leave from her teaching position and is a courtesy scholar at UWL for the fall 2018 semester, presented on her life in Luoyang as well as the school she teaches at: Luoyang Foreign Language School #2. 

Ivy also touched upon Luoyang’s history. She said, “[Luoyang] is also one of the four great ancient capitals of China…It was also the birthplace of three of the four great inventions of China” being paper-making, printing, and the compass—the fourth being gunpowder.  

After explaining the history and her daily life, Ivy showed an informational video about Luoyang Foreign Language School #2. The school was established in 2002 and currently teaches kindergarten through 12th grade. 

“Combined with [Luoyang Foreign Language School #2’s] current condition and after several years of exploration and innovation, the school has created a unique program named the Five-Step To Classroom Teaching Method…It focuses on independent study skills, academic cooperation, questioning, problem-solving, and self-expression. As a result, the aspirations of students and teachers can be fulfilled,” the video narrator explained.  

It also conveyed that its “English-teaching enriches the students’ abilities.” According to school records, 1,498 awards have been given to English competition winners spanning all grade levels at Luoyang Foreign Language School #2. The school teaches Japanese, English, German, and French. Students can finish their primary schooling in other countries as well as applying to universities following the same guidelines actual citizens would. It is the number one school in Luoyang.  

Carrie Wuensch-Harden and Jason Harden were the next presenters.  

Michael De Yoe, who organized the Town Hall, introduced the couple. He said, “Because they teach at La Crosse schools, they are eligible to take a leave of absence with a substitute provided in their classrooms at the La Crosse schools to go to Luoyang. Primarily that’s where [La Crosse teachers] have gone.” 

“We had the phenomenal opportunity to go to Ivy’s school for five weeks last year right about this time,” Wuensch-Harden said. She also mentioned that watching Ivy’s informational video brought back a lot of memories.  

Harden said, “I was the apprehensive traveler who has barely visited any place else…and [my wife] was like “hey we should go [to Luoyang] and I was probably washing dishes— “yes, sure that sounds fine honey” and eventually we had a meeting to go.” He also emphasized the fact that one of them could have gone, but they wanted their whole family, both spouses and daughters, to experience the opportunity.  

They taught at the middle school and split 25 classes. Harden taught twelve and Wuensch-Harden taught 13. They were with other exchange teachers from Canada and the United Kingdom and were referred to as “foreign experts.”  

Harden and Wuensch-Harden spent the last part of China Town Hall discussing their travels, their children’s experience, as well as their own in Luoyang and at Luoyang Foreign Language School #2.

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