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    An Educational Journey


    "Kids are Kids No Matter Where You Go"


    December 6, 2016

     Kari Backlund works with students at Hou Kong Middle School in Macau, China.

    As a long-time educator, Selah Superintendent, Shane Backlund, knows first-hand that kids are kids no matter where they reside.  Backlund recently cemented this truth as he crossed continents and an ocean while on an educational journey to Macau, China.

    While in Macau, Backlund and his wife, who is an assessment specialist with the Yakima School District, provided guidance to an international school, Hou Kong Middle School, a campus of 1,200 students equivalent to pre-school through ninth grades.  The experience was made possible through a relationship that Backlund’s mother has with the same school in her work at Central Washington University.  The trip was funded as a part of a grant that was written to support American educators providing specific training opportunities for the staff at Hou Kong.

    During their visit to the school and as they met staff and students, the Backlund’s used their years of educational experience to focus on supporting both classroom instruction and aspects of leadership.  The Backlund’s spent time observing lessons, meeting with leaders, and conducting workshops.

    “It was a fast and furious pace for the six days we were there, but the staff was enjoyable to work with and very receptive to our ideas,” said Shane Backlund.

    Although the Macau school system differed from that of Selah’s, Backlund said there were also many similarities. 

    The main differences were in the formality of structures and in the course offerings.  Backlund said everyThe Backlund's with their hosts in Macau, China. student in the school receives instruction in English and becomes quite fluent in the language by their middle school years.  Backlund even noted the students were anxious to show off their English skills whenever they had a chance.

    In terms of similarities Backlund said it was evident that staff in Macau, just like Selah School District staff, works incredibly hard at doing what is best for their students.  Similar to all teachers, the Macau staff spends several hours outside of the school day preparing lessons, engaging in professional development and collaborating with colleagues.  Backlund also noted that just as in Selah, Macau families were very supportive of the educational system and described one evening during a parent program where classrooms and hallways were full with hundreds of parents taking part—just like Selah!

    Following his quick trip, Backlund said he and his wife are appreciative of their time spent in Macau and in the short time they were there they formed bonds and relationships with fellow educators.  After all, educators are educators and globally want the best for their students.  Backlund also noted that discussions have begun about future opportunities to partner with the school in different ways, including possible staff and student exchanges.   

    Now back at work in Selah and continuing his focus on cultivating a culture of lifelong learning for all, Backlund said it best, “Kids are kids no matter where you go.  Seeing their enthusiasm and love of learning was inspiring.  It made me thankful for what I do and for where I get a chance to work every day.”

    Yes, kids are kids no matter where you go—Even continents and an ocean away.