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Lahaina Rotarian teaches in China as part of vocational training team

By Staff | Aug 11, 2016

Joanne Laird teaches one of her trainee teams.

LAHAINA – Joanne Laird, a member of the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset, recently returned from Lanzhou, Gansu, China as part of a Rotary International Vocational Training Team (VTT) project.

VTTs are groups of professionals who travel abroad either to teach local professionals about a particular field or to learn more about their own. Laird traveled to the central China city as part of a six-member team of “teachers teaching teachers.”

The goal of the program was to provide the 60 trainees who gathered at Northwest University in Lanzhou with better tools for teaching English and for improving general pedagogy. Three teams of two Rotary instructors each taught trainees for four hours every day for two weeks, and in the evening presented “English Corner.”

Along with Rotarian Jackie Horejs from Morgan Hill, CA, Laird taught English, pedagogy, instructional strategies, classroom management and American culture to 20 trainees in the intermediate group. This is the second year that Laird has participated in the program.

“Returning to Lanzhou for the second year was an amazing experience. These teachers from rural China were so eager to learn American instructional strategies. Instead of a ‘sit-and-get’ form of teaching, they embraced a learning teams approach to instruction,” said Laird.

“At the ‘English Corner,’ I taught a hula, which was so well-received the trainees clamored for more!”

The Rotary Club of Cupertino, CA, in conjunction with the ShinShin Foundation of Cupertino sponsored the trip. VTT teams are funded by Rotary district and global grants.

Laird currently serves as Youth Services chair for Rotary District 5000, where she oversees the operations of a number of Rotary youth programs, including Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Program (RYLA), Interact, Rotaract, Early Act and Youth Exchange.

She is also the program director for Read Aloud America and a part-time teacher in English/Language Arts at Kihei Elementary School.

Rotary is a leadership organization made up of local business, professional and civic leaders. Clubs hold regular meetings, where members are able to form friendships and participate in activities that serve their communities. There are ten Rotary clubs on Maui and Lanai. For more information about Rotary, contact Rotary Maui Public Relations Chair Melissa Crawley at crawley.m@gmail.com.