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I had the pleasure of traveling with Suzanne and administrators from four other New England schools on a delegation to China in November. I was very excited to be there for my school (Vermont Commons School in Burlington), and I wanted to share the excitement.

A lot of people joined us for the second Chinese Language Roundtable in November. It was a beautiful day, sunny and a little chilly. This is typical early winter weather in mid-November. Time flies when the conversation flows.

The Chinese have so many puns and play on words. Nearly every Chinese word has multiple homophones, two or multiple words that sound similar but have different meanings, like "hare" and "hair". The phrase 雙關語 shuāngguānyǔ means puns with double or multiple meanings.

Our first gathering after the summer hiatus took place at the new offices of Fox Intercultural overlooking Congress Street near Monument Square. We felt like China's great emperors as we looked down at the passing people of downtown Portland through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to venture to the booming industrial city of Tangshan in northeastern China. I had the pleasure of presenting to a group of more than 30 high school students about my approach for getting accepted into top-tier U.S. colleges and universities.

A few new people came to our first gathering in June, so we did introductions (jiè shào). Once again, the Chinese language is expressed differently just across the Taiwan Strait. For example, Mao Zedong (China/pinyin) or Mao Tse-Tung's (Taiwan/Wade-Giles) red armband is called xiù zhāng (sleeve band) in China and bì zhāng (arm band) in Taiwan.

This month, I was lucky to lead a workshop series in schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut—where international student coordinators came together to sit around a table and share best practices.

When we all gathered on May 3rd, the topics (話題huà tí) ranged from one student’s thesis on how environmental education is taught in moral education (思想品德 sī xiǎng pǐn dé) to complexities in communicating in Chinese or English so one can be understood.

I am sitting at a banquet table in the ancient city of Xi’An as glasses are raised and “gambei” is hollered by all. It’s mid-January, the week before Chinese New Year and celebration is in the air.