by Mary Whitrock

My recent participation in a Wisconsin delegation to China was a feat of both endurance and protocol.

Virtually every minute of the 10-day trip was filled with formal meetings and dinners as school leaders from Ripon, Green Lake, the University of Wisconsin Colleges, Marshfield and Wausau interacted with dignitaries, university officials and school leaders from the Jiangsu Province.

Traveling to China provided an immersion experience in new ways and customs.

... Business meetings were held in large conference rooms with the Chinese dignitaries and the Wisconsin delegation lined up on opposite sides of the table similar to that of a chess match. Name cards in both English and Chinese noted each guests’ rank at the table.

... Our Chinese hosts began each meeting with a warm greeting noting their excitement over our visit and then provided an introduction to their organization. We responded by thanking them for the opportunity and for their generous hospitality.

... cooperative agreements were signed noting the intent of UW-Colleges system and our four Wisconsin school districts to form an international partnership with public high schools and universities in the cities of Yancheng and Zhangjiagang in the Jiangsu Province of China.

Approaching new challenges created through an immersion experience requires intense cognitive thought or situational learning.

Students, as they enter the workforce or head off to college, face similar challenges and must quickly learn the ways and customs of their new employer or institution.

... Ripon High School helps to bridge this transition by providing students with apprenticeship opportunities so they can begin to understand what it truly means to learn on the job.

... The intent of the Wisconsin delegation to China is to bring international diversity to our high school, permit greater study abroad opportunities for our students and staff, and attract new open-enrollment students.

International tuition-paying students will increase our student enrollments, stabilize our course offerings and provide an additional revenue source in the district. This will ensure our district is vibrant and competitive for years to come.

Mary Whitrock is the superintendent for the Ripon Area School District.

To read the entire column, see the April 30, 2015 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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