Exploring and strengthening collaboration and partnerships in Kunming and Beijing

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Faridah Pawan and Dean Watson with Sani school children

For two weeks this summer, Dean Lemuel Watson and Professor Faridah Pawan were in Kunming and Beijing, China. In both locations, university administrators and colleagues organized large-scale meetings, small group discussions and one-to-one conversations to share research, express interests and propose multiple partnership possibilities. 

Dean Watson and Pawan spent the most time in Kunming and its surrounding areas in Yunnan Province, home of 25 out of 56 Chinese Minority groups. Diversity, multilingualism and multiculturalism are thus central to the undertakings of schools and universities in the province. Yunnan University’s Research Institute of Higher Education, including Professors Dong Yun Chuan and Wu Mei, invited the two to share their research on minority issues and teacher education at Yunnan University at a conference entitled “New Trends in Ethnic Minority Education in a Globalized World.” As part of the Yunnan University-hosted experience, Watson and Pawan visited schools and villages in Weize and Nuohei, near Shilin’s Stone Forest and home to the people of the Sani Minority group.

Dean Watson with Vice-President Zhou Zuo Yu of Beijing Normal University
Dean Watson leading a talk and receiving a standing ovation at Yunnan University

At Beijing Normal University, Dean Watson and Pawan engaged in the discussions of specific proposals forwarded by BNU’s Dean Zhu Xu Dong of the Faculty of Education and administrators and colleagues from the Center for Teacher Education Research and the Center for Comparative Education. The proposals ranged from dual degree programs, joint research and teaching as well as student exchanges. The visit culminated with a conversation and invitation from Vice President Zhou Zuo You for the School of Education faculty to guest teach at BNU in Beijing or at its new campus in Zhuhai in Guangdong. 

In his twelve talks, workshops and multiple small group conversations at five universities, including two minority (Minzu) universities, Dean Watson emphasized inclusive and culturally-responsive teaching as goals. Institutional partnerships are thus opportunities for exchanges and engagements for all to work together to reach those goals.

Professors Yang Tian Tian, Yang Shi Zou, Ma Yong Hong (English Department Chair, Minzu University, Chenggong), Dean Lemuel Watson and Professor Faridah Pawan

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