Harker’s middle school recently played host to guests visiting from the World Foreign Language Middle School (WFLMS) in Shanghai, China.
Towards the end of January, students and staff at the Blackford campus graciously welcomed 19 WFLMS students and four chaperones as part of Harker’s student exchange program with its Chinese sister school.
The Harker students and their buddies from China, who had been corresponding since the fall, were thrilled to finally meet in person. Come spring, a contingent of Harker students will head to China as part of the annual exchange program which is a highlight and culmination of the middle school experience for many grade 8 students.
The WFLMS is a semiprivate school specializing in the study of foreign languages. From the school’s first day, it abandoned the traditional pattern in foreign language teaching in favor of students learning by practicing new languages at school, home and through travel abroad.
During their stay from Jan. 22-25, the WFLMS students were matched with 19 of Harker’s grade 7 and 8 students. While here, the exchange students observed and attended several middle school classes and headed over to the lower school for a traditional Chinese paper cutting project with grades 4 and 5. In their free time, the visitors ventured out for some sightseeing activities.
Harker’s unique relationship with the school in the People’s Republic of China began in 2003 and is the first of its kind.
“This past winter was really exciting with many international guests coming our way,” enthused Jennifer Walrod, Harker’s director of global education, explaining that beyond its relationship with WFLMS, Harker builds progressive academic and cultural relationships between institutions around the world. In addition to the WFLMS visit to the middle school, the upper school welcomed visitors from Harker’s sister schools in Japan, Switzerland and Australia.
The overall goal of Harker’s global education program, said Walrod, is to provide meaningful experiences for students at all grade levels, “preparing them to be true global citizens.”