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Education in the Digital Age; Chinese New Year Celebrations

On Monday, February 8th, we made it to two events despite the weather that could best be described as slushy. First of all, we went to the Happy Dog on Detroit Avenue to attend an "Education in the Digital Age" a networking affair put on by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs (CCWA) for the benefit of six "higher IMG_7738education professionals" who, as the handout that we received stated, were visiting Cleveland "under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program" to"learn about current technological trends in education, their impact on student learning, and more."

These visitors were Ms. Anisa Aslami, Lecturer from Said Jamal-ul-Din Teacher Training College in Afghanistan; Ms. Mary Penheiro, Founder and Managing Director of LearnBangla in Bangladesh; Mr. Eaada Al Balawy, Education Specialist from Iraq; Ms. Yesenia Lopez Hernandez, Professor of English at Polytechnic University of Queretaro in Mexico; Ms. Nada Alsadat, School Principal at Albda'a School in Saudi Arabia; and Mr. Mocheke Thoka, Principal from Phomolong Secondary School in South Africa.

Each of the visitors got to speak for a moment about their educational backgrounds and what they foundIMG_7745 most valuable about their visit to the United States and Cleveland. Actually eighteen people were participating in the tour but the rest of them were taking similar side trips to other cities. On Tuesday, February 9th, those that chose to visit Cleveland will fly to San Francisco where they will meet up with the other twelve.

The purpose of this gathering at the Happy Dog was to introduce the educators to organizations in Cleveland who might be of help to them. These organizations and the people representing them includedour colleague, Mr. George Koussa (and ourselves) from Margaret W. Wong and Associates, Dr. Generosa Lopez-Molina from Capella University; Mr. Paul Karol, Learning Systems Administrator at the Center for eLearning at CSU; Mr. Joaquin J. Dos Reis, International Education Coordinator at the Center for International Medical Education at the Cleveland Clinic; and Ms. Madeline Rife, Mentoring Program Manager at College Now Greater Cleveland.

IMG_7742We got to visit for a few minutes Dr. Lopez-Molina who told us about the on-line learning program at Capella University. She told us that she works with international students from all over the world as well as people in the United States Armed Forces. Dr. Lopez-Molina said that her goal was to assist our visitors by helping them obtain innovative practices that they could use to help their ownstudents.

We also talked to Ms. Penheiro who founded a language school in Bangladesh that teaches Bangla to internationals such as diplomats, those who work for NGO's, and even some missionaries. She said that people from the U.S. are her biggest block of students followed by those from South Korea.IMG_7744

As far as technology and its purpose/use in education, we were pleased to learn that the educators tended to agree that digital technology is undeniably important and has great potential as a tool but it should not replace books and personal interaction as the bedrock of education. They also believed that education is not a one size fits all matter and that different approaches must available to help students with varying needs.

February 8th was the start of the Chinese New Year and it was celebrated that evening at the Quicken Loans Arena where the Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Sacramento Kings. The celebration was presented by ZTE (smart phone partner of the CAVS) and its Chairman and CEO, Mr. Lixin Cheng gave away a new smart phone to a young man who was able to name the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac.IMG_7791

When we arrived at the Q, we went right to the table set up by Confucius Institute where Zijie Li, Xuejun Peng, and Kizhen Wang were handing out  panda masks and small Chinese lantern kits. Next to the table was Lifen Han in a panda costume greeting all who passed by. A short distance away there was a gourmet table serving vegetarian egg rolls and a crafts table where people could create Peking Opera masks.

IMG_7758As we searched for where we were supposed to sit, we discovered that there were burgundy t -shirts with"Chinese New Year" stamped upon them in yellow lettering on every single one of the seats at the Q as well as little red envelopes in all of the cup holders with small gifts inside; ours was a chance to get "$100 off Axon Pro 2 and SPro2." At halftime and during timeouts, there were performances by the OCA Dragon Dance team, the famed acrobat Red Panda, and a special dance number by the IMG_7764Cavalier Girls. We particularly liked a video that was shown on the overhead screen in which several players talked about how well they were received when they visited China.

We looked up a press release and read that "in China, the NBA is the most watched professional sport and basketball is played by 300 million people across the country, according to the NBA. The CAVS IMG_7762specifically have one of the largest subscriber bases in the league on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo with over 1.4 million followers..."

As for the game itself that night at the Q, the CAVS established an early wide lead and held on to it as they went on ultimately triumph 100 to 120, hardly a heart pounder, but, except for the Kings, it was an evening of good fortune for all concerned and a worthy start to what we hope will be an excellent year for our community.

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