About the China Research Residency
What is the China Research Residency (CRR)?
An overseas academic trip or "Research Residency," in which students are immersed in the culture and language they study and conduct research for a year-end school project is a cornerstone of other language immersion programs here in Portland (such as the PPS Japanese Immersion Program and private language schools) and throughout the United States. Fluency doesn't develop through classroom instruction alone.
The K-16 Flagship Grant that supports our program emphasizes the benefits of learning through real life experiences or "experiential learning" as a critical part of immersion education, and provides resources for developing an annual middle school trip, or a "Research Residency." The grant operates on three basic educational principles:
It has been proven that bilingual children demonstrate a higher level of academic performance amongst students. They surpass or at least are equal to the monolingual students and no negative effects are found in bilingualism.
– Dr. Duarte Silva, School of Education, Stanford University
- Explicit language instruction
- Content-based instruction
- Experiential learning
The China Research Residency is a district-sponsored academic trip for all MIP students who continue in the program through 8th grade. This voluntary trip is for students who demonstrate a commitment to an overseas travel experience through their academic performance and behavior, as determined by PPS staff. No student has to go, but all the 8th graders must participate in the research project since it is integrated into the 8th grade curriculum as a whole. Students are accompanied by PPS staff and parent chaperones. The trip occurs in the spring and lasts about two weeks. The first trip was in May 2008.
What are the goals of the CRR?
- Bring relevance to classroom instruction
- Explore daily life in China
- Conduct a research project that is integrated into the 8th grade curriculum
- Empower students and build their language and cultural competence
- Reward the students for their years of hard work and launch them into the high school program
For many this trip seems very far off; often people wonder what all the fuss is about over a two week trip to China. Actually the research residency is much more than an elaborate field trip. Much of the students’ 8th grade year is spent discussing, planning and organizing their trip. Thus, the kids are using Chinese to discuss a multitude of topics related to the trip. On the trip, students get to use their Chinese for practical purposes. For many, they get to see the culture they have been studying for the past seven years for the first time. They often come back excited to be learning Mandarin and excited about how they might use the language in the future. The cost per person for this Research Residency can easily reach $4000 or more. Because of the funds raised by Shu Ren we were able to keep costs for parents down to as little as $500 per student, and hope to continue to offer this.
How is the Trip Funded?
There are three sources for funding:
- The K-16 Flagship Grant: The Flagship grant provides money for trip planning and development, and possibly for PPS staff travel expenses in the initial years. The grant will not cover plane tickets, visa and passport fees, and other costs for students and parent chaperones. To make the trip affordable and sustainable, private fundraising by immersion parents must continue.
- The annual Shu Ren Gala: For the past three years, funds from the annual Gala/Auction have been divided this way: 25% goes to the Shu Ren general fund to benefit all MIP students, and 75% goes into the Research Residency Fund. The Shu Ren board has invested much of the money in the fund in short-term Certificates of Deposit.
- Individual family contributions: Families also pay a percentage of the trip expenses, anticipated to be in the range of $500-$1,000/student, depending on costs. Actual cost for travel expenses are in the $2,000+ range (these prices do not reflect the cost of planning and coordination). Parent escorts pay their own way. Children/families are encouraged to start saving now, and individual classes can always conduct their own trip fundraisers to reduce the per-family cost. Scholarships are also be available through Shu Ren.
How Will Future Gala Income be Divided?
The CRR committee developed this distribution for equitably dividing of Gala income. Several committee members also met with PPS immersion coordinator Michael Bacon, who has planned and escorted middle school trips to Japan assists in planning the CRR. In drafting the proposal, committee members considered trip funding formulas used by other schools and parent groups, identified our primary goals and attempted to balance these goals, which are:
- To ensure that the trip is sustainable and affordable for all students committed to going.
- To ensure that each child who takes the 8th grade trip is funded equally (not including scholarships).
- To ensure that each class fund is large enough to support the trip.
Under the Gala income distribution, each K-6th grade class builds its own class fund each year, and each 7th grade class gets a large lump sum payment that meets the needs of the class that will travel the following year. This way, when the 7th grade class moves into 8th grade, they will know how much Shu Ren money they have to work with and can plan accordingly. The Gala from the year preceding the trip will be the last Gala to benefit the 8th grade.
Because class sizes fluctuate, especially from elementary to middle school, the committee decided to base the proposal on individual classes rather than students. The proposal assumes that Gala income will grow each year as classes grow and more parents get involved. As the program moves into high school, Cleveland MIP families will also contribute to the Gala, even though they won't receive a direct benefit.
The CRR Committee proposed the following formula as a framework for using the existing China Trip Fund, and for allocating future Gala income, starting with the 2006 Gala:
The existing China Trip Fund will be set aside as a CRR Reserve and Scholarship Fund. The Fund will be replenished each year from the Gala, from unused individual class funds, and through earned interest. The Reserve Fund will be used in this way:
- Each class can use Reserve Fund money to make up gaps between their individual class trip fund and the amount that parents must pay.
- Scholarships for students/families who apply for financial assistance.
- No single class can use more than 10% of the Reserve Fund.