Gloria Juedemann of Union, Mo., has spent every summer since she retired traveling to China to educate Chinese teachers on improving their English. Now she recruits other teachers to do the same.
She is the director for the Jiangsu Teacher Training Program in the United States.
“When I recruit teachers to work in China, it is exciting for me to help them prepare for the experience and trip, and then to hear from them about their experiences,” she says.
Gloria first learned of the program from her husband Charles in 2006 after she retired. He was teaching an adult education class for East Central College, and one of his students told him about it.
“He was excited about the program, and the very night he learned about it, he came home and said, ‘Guess what we are going to do this summer?’ And we did teach in the program that summer. We were so moved by the experience that we knew we would go back in 2007,” Gloria says.
They did. They returned in 2008, and she then realized there were no teachers from the Midwest in the program. She asked her Chinese director about bringing in teachers and was accepted to be a director. She took her first group of teachers to China in 2009, and has now introduced more than 100 teachers to the program.
As director, Gloria recruits teachers and sends their applications to the Chinese director, who selects each candidate. “It has always been exciting for me to help others and then to see them accomplish their goals,” Gloria said.
“It is exciting for me to help others and then to see them accomplish their goals. I have always worked closely with administration, teachers, parents and students in order to help students achieve the best possible education,” Gloria said.
The program is a two-week professional development program in China for teachers. One hundred teachers are accepted each summer from the United States and Canada. They receive free tours in Nanjing and the city where they teach. Housing and meals are provided.
Gloria prepares lessons plans, lesson plan training and orientation to China, and assists teachers throughout the entire process.
“The Chinese learn about the United States, and we learn about China and her people. In this program we live and work where the Chinese teachers live and work. Unlike a tour, in this program we experience the daily life of the Chinese culture. It is a true educational and cultural experience with the opportunity to learn from each other,” Gloria says.
She says each summer is exciting and different. She has experienced many different cities and has traveled extensively throughout China.
“My favorite memory is the feeling I had when I returned home from my first teaching experience in China,” Gloria says. “I was struck with the overwhelming realization that I had made friends in China, and I could not find the words to describe the incredible experience.
“At that time I received a letter from one of my Chinese teacher students that summed it up for me. He said, ‘We had a good time when we studied English from you at Xuzhou. You are a good, kind, friendly and helpful teacher. I have learned a lot from you as well. And, I can experience the feeling of brotherhood and togetherness with the world. When I work and teach my students in the future, I will be ready to smile, be ready to help, be ready to serve.’
“That is the feeling I had and when I read his letter. I still get that feeling of awe in knowing that I have provided the opportunity for many other teachers to experience this same incredible feeling of ‘togetherness with the world,’” Gloria said.
She is a thrice graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education, elementary education major, with an emphasis in exceptional child and returned to the University to earn her Master of Arts in guidance and counseling and a Specialist in Education with an emphasis in elementary education.
“Southeast was known as the teacher’s college. I did not even consider attending a college anywhere else. I believed I would receive the best education and preparation for my future. And, I did,” she says.
For the academic year 2003-2004, she received the Missouri Elementary School Counselor of the Year, and in 2005, she was selected as the American Elementary School Counselor of the Year.
Gloria offers some advice to future Southeast students.
“Follow your goals and dreams,” she says “They will be accomplished with hard work and determination. Keep an open mind. Be dedicated to your profession and true to yourself.”
People interested in learning more about the program can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.weteachinchina.com.