FARMINGTON – The University of Maine at Farmington has received a $64,000 Fulbright-Hays Groups Projects Abroad grant from the Fulbright Scholarship Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.

The award will support a “Get to Know China” project through the UMF/Dirigo GEAR UP Partnership. Twelve participants from both the university and area school districts will embark on a four-week study tour of China in summer 2005. The group will visit Beijing, Xian, Wuhan and Shanghai.

“It is hoped that the project will expand the international studies curriculum in schools,” said the project’s director, Weiya Liang.

The purpose of the project is to provide opportunities for full-time, practicing grades kindergarten to 12 teachers from school districts in western Maine and the faculty of the university, to develop and enhance their understanding of the Chinese language and culture through first-hand experience; to develop curriculum content and teaching units to integrate international studies into their classrooms; to permit participants to acquire resource materials for curriculum development and for local dissemination and to forge ties between faculty and teachers for future collaborations.

The abroad program is designed to contribute to the development and improvement of the study of modern foreign languages and area studies in the United States by providing training opportunities for faculty, teachers and upperclassmen and/or graduate students in foreign countries where the United States has diplomatic representation.

Other key project members include Marilyn Shea, UMF professor of psychology; Ming-Ming Pu, UMF associate professor of linguistics; and Tom Starratt, principal of T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School in Dixfield.

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