When we broke off into smaller groups to visit separate classes, I could not have expected the kids to behave better or show more interest in what we were all about, whether it was our favorite films, music, season, color, number of pets, members of our family, or areas of personal interest. Their teacher facilitated a great discussion between two very different parties and realized a connection between small-town, provincial 6th graders and University of Michigan students, which is no small task. Even further, they gathered to sing us songs, expressing their own cultural identity through using the English lanuage. This really exemplified how much they anticipated our arrival, and the behavior of the people in charge of us only backed that up.
One of the most interesting parts of the discussion was when the teacher told us to stand in a circle, and then she instructed the students to say something that was generally nice in English. It didn't have to be a compliment, but just a nice concept (common ones were "friends" and "love"). I offered good health. The focus on both positivity and social recognition conveyed a lot to me about how instruction works at the school and the sort of approach the teachers take in getting the students involved.