Three Gorham School officials are leaving Tuesday, June 27, for a nine-day trip to China.

Superintendent Ted Sharp along with Gorham High School Principal John Drisko and Assistant Middle School Principal Sue Hanley are among 400 U.S. educators traveling on an educational tour, aimed at expanding Chinese language programs in the United States. “We’re all very excited about it,” Sharp said Tuesday.

China is picking up the tab for the trip, sponsored by Hanban, a Chinese university, and China’s Office of Chinese Language Council International in partnership with the U.S. College Board in Princeton, N.J. Sharp said China realizes it’s in their best interest to promote Chinese language programs in U.S. schools. “China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” Sharp said.

Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, said more than 200 million children in China are studying English but only 24,000 U.S. students are studying Chinese. “We appreciate the support of Hanban, which will enable more American students to learn the Chinese language, discover the vibrant culture of China and participate more fully in the cultural exchange between our two countries,” Caperton said.

Sharp, who majored in Chinese history, said there is a shortage of instructors to teach Chinese in American schools. But Hanban and the College Board hope to expand the teaching of Chinese in the United States. Over the next three years, 250 guest teachers from China will be placed in American classrooms.

The U.S. group will meet with Chinese educational leaders on the trip. The three Gorham educators, who will return on July 5, will visit Beijing before traveling to other cities and provinces to meet with local Chinese educators.

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