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July 25, 2007


Two administrators from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office of Catholic Education have returned from a trip to China. Stephen Pawlowski, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Staff Relations and Theresa Ryan-Szott, Director of Secondary School Personnel, joined 800 educators from the United States on a trip to China from Sunday, June 24, 2007 to Tuesday, July 3, 2007, in an effort to build and expand Chinese language programs throughout Archdiocesan high schools.

In only its second year, the Chinese Bridge Delegation aims to expose school decision makers to the rich history and culture of China. Pawlowski and Ryan-Szott were among educators - including teachers, administrators and language coordinators - who began their tour in Beijing and then traveled to Yichang City and Wuhan in the Hubei Province where they met with local educators and students. Ryan-Szott said of the experience, "I am looking for ways to expand training options at the secondary level to address the scarcity of teachers fluent in this critical, less commonly taught foreign language of Mandarin Chinese." Many of the 20 Archdiocesan high schools gave gifts to Pawlowski and Ryan-Szott to present to schoolchildren in China. "The students and teachers in the schools that we visited were open and very impressive. The visit emphasized the need for continuing exchange and the sharing of ideas and values that would contribute to the development of a truly world community," Pawlowski said of the recent trip.

Chinese is the national language of more than 1.3 billion inhabitants of China and millions more ethnic Chinese around the world. While more than 200 million Chinese schoolchildren are studying English, experts estimate that no more than 50,000 American children are studying Chinese.

For the 2006-2007 school year, Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield, Delaware County, began by teaching Mandarin Chinese. Roman Catholic High School for Boys in Philadelphia will begin a Chinese language program in September 2007. The Office of Catholic Education oversees 20 high schools throughout the five counties of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. For more information about the Office of Catholic Education, please visit

The Chinese Bridge Delegation is sponsored by Hanban, China's Office of Chinese Language Council International, in partnership with the College Board. Hanban is China's official agency authorized to promote Chinese language and culture internationally. They will be sending the Office of Catholic Education over 100 types of educational material designed to promote the implementation of programs within the 20 Archdiocesan high schools.

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Meredith Wilson
Communications Specialist

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