Two Jefferson School District No. 251 administrators took a trip to China in October with the hope to build connections with other schools and improve the district’s Chinese immersion program.

Chad Martin, superintendent, and Kevin Cowley, world language immersion program coordinator, were the only two Idaho delegates on the Chinese Bridge Delegation.

More than 100 administrators, school leaders and decision-makers attended the 10-day program, which is organized and paid for by the College Board and Confucius Institute. Cowley said he and Martin were in a smaller group composed of administrators from Ohio, Texas and Utah. During the program, they visited local schools and met with educators, administrators and students.

“It was an amazing experience,” Martin said.

Cowley said the main purpose of the trip had been to build relationships that could be advantageous for Chinese immersion program students. He said he and Martin worked with schools to find ways students in Jefferson School District and China could interact and learn more about one another’s cultures.

“We’re just looking at ideas right now, but some thoughts that we’ve looked over are having opportunities for them to have pen pals … We’re also looking at possible opportunities for student exchanges in the future,” Cowley said.

Cowley said “pen pals” would likely communicate via email or video chat. Martin said outside of networking, he enjoyed learning more about the schools they visited.

“Our goals were the same, and that was just to provide the best education possible for students,” he said.

Martin said there were similarities between the schools in China and Jefferson School District. He said it “kind of reaffirmed a lot of the practices we are doing.”

Cowley said the experience was a positive one, and said the school district will continue working on ideas for the two cultures to interact.