Palliser, Guangzhou working toward student, staff collaboration

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Vice-Chair Robert Strauss represented the Board of Trustees at the signing event.

Palliser Regional Schools and the Bureau of Education from China’s third largest city signed a memorandum of understanding with a goal of creating opportunities for student and staff collaboration.

The signing ceremony was held in Vancouver Saturday, Jan. 23, with Dong Wang, deputy mayor of the Guangzhou government; Shaobing Qu, director of the city’s education bureau; and Changxue Yu, chief of the education office of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver.

Guangzhou is the largest city in south China with about 17 million people. The city operates its own education system.

The memorandum of understanding is non-binding but indicates support for developing a partnership which would open the door to the creation of student and teacher exchanges and other programs to build bridges between education systems. The agreement was facilitated by Bela Education, a consulting firm that promotes Chinese international education. Representatives from Bela have visited Palliser’s schools and met with staff and students here.

Alberta Education and their counterparts in China have had a partnership agreement since 2004.

Palliser was represented at the signing ceremony by Acting Board Chair Robert Strauss, Superintendent Kevin Gietz and Associate Superintendent Education Services Pat Rivard, who oversees Palliser’s international student program.

Gietz said he’s looking forward to Palliser students and staff benefitting from the cultural opportunities that may come from this agreement.

Palliser’s international student program was created in 2013-2014 to give students in southern Alberta opportunities to experience other cultures by meeting and learning alongside students from around the world. The program has grown each year with students from China, Brazil and Korea attending schools across the division.

In December, Rivard and Director of Learning Tom Hamer visited China on a recruitment trip that saw them visit six cities in 10 days. Highlights of that trip included a presentation about Palliser Beyond Borders online courses to about 60 people in Guangzhou.  A memorandum of understanding with the University of Guangzhou was also signed to investigate creation of a “two-plus-one” program in which students from China could study online through Palliser for two years before coming to Alberta for their Grade 12 year. Palliser met with Alberta Education officials who work in China, and visited middle and high schools in Qingdao, a city in Shandong Province on China’s east coast.

Palliser’s international program is self-sustaining financially.