May 19th, 1999
By Yolanda Reynolds
Photos By Mary Andrade
Last Monday, 55 distinguished visitors from mainland China visited Silicon Valley. The group included dignitaries from the Provinces of Yunnan and Beijing. The trip here is intended to encourage cultural exchange, respect for language and cultural differences and to promote exploratory discussions for teacher and student exchange programs.
The delegation first visited Armstrong College in Oakland, where they were greeted by its President, Dr. Michael Hwang. Their visit in San Jose involved an introduction to the Alum Rock School District followed by a tour of Pala School, which is located around the corner from the school’s District Office on Gay Ave. They concluded their visit in San Jose with a luncheon at and visit to the National Hispanic University, located on Story Road.
The Alum Rock Superintendent Dr. Wood, accompanied by three of the District’s Board members, welcomed the visitors with the words of a famous Chinese philosopher, who is credited with the statement “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step.” Wood pointed out, “Today you are making a first stop toward a wonderful partnership in correcting a social and cultural gap that we face today.” He added “Today our world becomes one.
Dr. Wood pointed out that California is the most diverse state in the Nation. Alum Rock has a student population of 16,000. Thirty five percent of the student population is of Asian heritage and another 45% is Hispanic. Alum Rock is also the fourth largest school District in Northern Ca.
Alum Rock staff have developed some innovative and hugely successful programs to serve their very diverse school community. One major program, a “Back to School Day” was designed to familiarize parents with the myriad of school programs and services which the District has to offer. This was presented to the visitors as one of their most successful programs for bringing the school’s community together.
The District has developed this major collaborative effort to inform parents and students of all the programs and services available to them. Among the agencies and programs who have participated in the collaboration are service providers such as the police, health organizations, neighborhood youth programs, public libraries, etc.
Local neighborhood business leaders also participate in this very special day. At the event every child receives, free of charge, ‘a back to school packet’ that includes many of the necessary tools for a pupil such as pencils, tablets, etc. All is not serious, there is great entertainment usually provided by Alum Rock campus musical, dance or theater groups. At noontime, long lines form for a luncheon snack, also free. Most of the cost for the Day is borne by donations from local or Valley businesses, as well as by personal donations.
Dr. Wood concluded the presentation at Alum Rock with the words, “Working together is progress. Staying together is success.” Following that short presentation and some questions regarding the District’s annual operating budget, gifts were exchanged.
Outside, everyone, including some District staff and all visitors from China, gathered for a film session of photo taking to provide personal remembrances of the historic visit to East Side San Jose and the visit to Alum Rock School District and the National Hispanic University. © La Oferta Newspaper.