An Iowa teacher is leaving today as part of a select group of educators from across the country for a 20-day study tour of China. Canada Snyder, of Des Moines, is the only Iowan in the delegation of 18 teachers. Snyder says they’ll tour historic sites and visit with Chinese teachers and students.

"I am there as a teacher representative so I’m looking for artifacts to bring back to my classroom for students so they can understand what it’s really like to be a person living in China today, what their economy is like, their government and just experiencing it better in the classroom," Snyder says.

The group’s stops will include many smaller Chinese communities and the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai. A Hartford native, Snyder teaches honors world civilization, history and humanities at the Central Academy in Des Moines.

She says she’s been teaching about China for ten years but this trip will greatly enhance her understanding of the most populous nation on earth. "It’ll make the environment when I talk about China a lot more rich to my students and they’ll be able to ask me — what it’s really like seeing the Great Wall or the Terra Cotta Soldiers or what’s it really like living in western China?" Snyder says.

"I’ll be able to tell them, ‘You know what? I’ve been there. I can explain this to you…and help you go there someday as well.’" While her command of the language is minimal, Synder is not concerned about being able to navigate and soak in plenty of information during the trip abroad.

"My Chinese is very little but I have done some practicing," Snyder says. "I have a book and we had a few lessons so I can speak very basic Chinese but I don’t think it’s going to be a huge language problem because we’ll have interpreters with us and you just immerse yourself in the culture and you deal with it."

The study program is part of a grant through the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. To learn more about the trip, see Synder’s website .