WEST ORANGE, NJ – The award-winning Chinese world language program in the West Orange School District welcomed two teachers from the Hangzhou Foreign Language School from Nov. 28 to Dec. 11 as part of the ongoing exchange program between the Chinese government and West Orange High School.

This is the first time teachers have participated in an exchange. Two teachers from WOHS, Ann Zaaijer (English as a Second Language) and Dr. David Sehr (Social Studies) traveled to HFLS from Oct. 31 – Nov. 8. Teacher Bin Chen (Physical Education) and Houyu Zhang (English as a Foreign Language) from the Hangzhou Foreign Language School spent a week at the high school observing classes in different departments, followed by a week of cultural presentations. 

In addition to physical education, Chen is also a martial arts expert. Along with Zhang, Chen prepared presentations for students at Liberty Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, and WOHS that included a brief history of martial arts, famous martial arts people and a demonstration of popular skills. Students were then invited to learn a short series of moves, and enjoyed it so much they asked when martial arts could be added to the curriculum.

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The Mandarin Foreign Language Program has been part of the West Orange school district for ten years and is offered as a regular course beginning in eighth grade. Offerings at the high school include standard, honors and advanced placement courses.

In addition, West Orange High School is accredited by the Chinese government and is nationally recognized as one of the first 20 Confucius Classrooms in the United States by the Asia Society, as well as the Hanban, the Central Chinese Education Committee. The district receives grant money from the Chinese government and facilitates exchange opportunities with the Hangzhou School through the Partner School Program. 

The visiting exchange teachers were hosted by various staff members in their homes, at stores, and in restaurants. They were also treated to a Rutgers basketball game, a trip to the Jersey Shore, New York City and Princeton.

“Our teachers and staff went above and beyond to make our visitors feel welcome,” said World Languages Supervisor Mary Quiroz.

The West Orange School district will host several Chinese exchange students from HFLS from Feb. 10 – 19. West Orange students traveled to China earlier in 2015.