Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version

September 2003


Published in Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Exchange, Fall 2003, 10(4), 9-16.


In 2000, 1 became the educational program director for Half the Sky Foundation. Half the Sky Foundation was organized by a group of American parents, led by Jenny Bowen, who had adopted Chinese orphans from Chinese Social Welfare Institutions. After seeing their own daughters become happy and healthy in a warm and stimulating environment in the United States, these parents wanted to give something back to the children (predominately girls) who still remained in the institutions in China. Therefore, an educational program called the Little Sisters Program was developed, integrating Reggio Emilia principles, Chinese early childhood practice, and North American ideas about teacher development and preparation. Half the Sky believes that Malaguzzi's principle, "education based on relationships," is fundamental for orphanage children because they have fewer opportunities to form close and caring relationships with people and with their environment. The goal of Half the Sky Foundation is to enrich the lives and enhance the prospects of babies and children in China who still wait to be adopted as well as those who will spend their childhood in orphanages.

With the support and collaboration of Carolyn Edwards, my doctoral advisor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, I developed a professional development curriculum for the teachers we were hiring for the Little Sisters Preschool Enrichment Programs, serving children aged 18 months to 7 years. Currently, I provide supervision and professional development every eight weeks at 11 orphanages in China. There are about 60 teachers working in the Little Sisters Programs, and they serve over 200 children. There are also Infant Nurture Centers for children under 18 months, and Big Sister Programs for children over seven.