Students immerse themselves in Chinese culture 5,000 miles away

Eighth-grade students sit on The Great Wall of China on April 8. Students went on a walk along the wall and learned about its history (photo courtesy of Ms. Rhiannon West).

As China is more than 5,000 miles away from London, it may seem like an unreachable and incredibly foreign place, but 12 Chinese language students in the Eighth grade traveled the distance on a language trip and discovered an entirely new and sensational nation. The students explored the wonders of Shanghai and Beijing and were fully immersed into Chinese culture over the course of the trip from April 5 to 12. 

Eighth grader  Caden Newton said, “I loved seeing the different culture. Things you do in China are really different than what you do in England or America.”

While in the capital Beijing, they were lucky enough to hike along the Great Wall of China, and see the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  Also, the group ventured into the Hutongs, a narrow lane in a traditional residential area. They were tasked with buying food and asking directions from Chinese store owners.

Students also spent time interacting with other Chinese students. They met with students at two schools in Beijing, and they joined Chinese traditional dances and played the Chinese game of Janzi. Also, in Shanghai, they went grocery shopping with Chinese students from a Beijing international school and then cooked some classic Chinese dishes. “Being able to talk to locals and students, and the fact that they understood what we were saying was cool in a way where you get to practice your Chinese with people who you might not expect to talk to,” said Newton.

Eighth grade students learn how to make dumplings in a class on April 7. This was just one way that the students learned about Chinese food and culture (photo courtesy of Mr. Chris Chen).

A highlight for many students was inner stories, where one night in Beijing and one night in Shanghai they split into groups of four, bought their own foods and interacted with the locals. Some groups decided to eat interesting Chinese foods, such as duck heart, chicken feet, stinky tofu, and squirrelfish. “I liked the dinner stories because you got to try new foods, like chicken feet. It was fun because you could talk to people and you had more freedom to do things when in small groups,” said Newton.

The main focus of the trip was to try new things and to expand students’ understanding of Chinese language and ability to speak it. All the students attempted to speak Chinese amongst each other and to the natives throughout the entire trip. They also got to visit some really interesting places, and this added to their knowledge of the Chinese culture. “I would recommend this trip, so you aren’t just reading off a textbook,” said Hsin-Yu Chen, a Chinese teacher and trip chaperone. “You get to see what you would learn if you were to continue on with the language, what it’s like to live in China,”

This is the third time the middle school has organized a trip to China, and as it has been highly successful, it will be continued for students in the future.

About Lina Destin ('21)

Staff Writer (2016-17)

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