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Grant to support U.S., China relations

Submitted by Taylor Hoffard on March 22, 2012 – 1:44 pmNo Comment

The Bringing China to Arkansas Program recently received a $120,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation to support the groups’ 2012 programs.
The program is beginning its 12th year, providing development of international exchanges between Chinese schools for Arkansas teachers.

BCAP is part of the Arkansas Global Program, with the mission to “facilitate positive, productive, and peaceful international relations between the U.S. and other countries through global education and exchange focused on education, business, government, and the arts,” according to the Arkansas Global Programs section of the UALR website.

BCAP includes a teacher workshop, three-week study tour of China and a traveling culture exhibit among other activities. BCAP supports the mandate of the Arkansas State Department of Education by integrating reading and writing standards into development of a broader curriculum, according to the website.

“In learning about China’s culture and sharing what they’ve learned with others, Arkansas teachers are improving relations between countries, and through intercultural understanding, are learning important ways of improving human relations at home,” said Martha Morton, the director of Arkansas Global Programs at UALR.
Morton said BCAP came as an inspiration to her because she herself was a foreign language teacher for 14 years, but then decided she wanted her life to have more social and and educational impact on others.

“BCAP is important to me because it results in bringing people from different cultural and social backgrounds and ethnicities together for learning, understanding, cooperation, respect, and ongoing communication that fosters these friendly and positive relationships, both during and after their BCAP year. It is my small way of contributing to a more collaborative, peaceful world … [the] teachers and educators are special. Education is essential to any successful society and culture. It opens the mind and heart and spirit and body,” Morton said.
By the end of 2005, BCAP had directly impacted 14,768 students, 1,345 teachers, 119 schools, and 70 Arkansas communities through their efforts.

BCAP’s goals are to promote cultural understanding of China by giving the appropriate hands-on information to Arkansas teachers who share the freshly learned material with their students and community. They also strive to improve relations between the U.S. and China by sharing educational exchanges and partnerships, according to the BCAP website.
“The Chinese are about as different from Americans as you can get. Yet they are this country’s most important partner in the world, make no mistake about it,” Morton said.
Since 2001, Morton said she has brought in around $2 million to provide BCAP to teachers.

“I began by finding grant funding and have been fortunate enough to fund The Bringing China to Arkansas Program every year since 2001, probably because it embodies what I believe is most important for America’s future,” Morton said.

“These are teachers trying to do all this for themselves, their students, and their communities. I applaud them for their commitment, their willingness to take personal leave time to learn about China and the Chinese and travel around China for 3 weeks, and afterward share their learning and motivation with other Arkansans,” Morton said.

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