This article originally appeared in the summer 2015 Harker Quarterly.
Ancient and modern China formed an intriguing focus of study for 21 middle school students during their recent visit to the World Foreign Language Middle School (WFLMS), Harker’s sister school in Shanghai.
At the end of March, 16 seventh graders and five eighth graders united for an action-packed week with their WFLMS buddies, who had earlier in the school year spent time at Harker as part of an annual reciprocal student exchange program.
Journeying to China is a much-anticipated adventure and highlight of the middle school experience for many grade 7 and 8 students. While there, the Harker contingent visited numerous landmarks and historic sites.
Originally based around the grade 8 computer science class’ global issues forum, the annual China trip expanded two years ago to incorporate the grade 7 historical component of learning about ancient China.
Keith Hirota, grade 6 ancient civilizations teacher, headed this year’s trip. Carol Green, Harker’s middle and upper school communication studies department chair, who was already in China serving as an exchange teacher at WFLMS, joined the group as a chaperone.
Students engaged in many activities with their group and with their hosts. For details, go to news.harker.org and search on Shanghai.
The students’ time at WFLMS ended with a farewell ceremony and dinner. “The ceremony was bittersweet as we watched several students from both schools give touching speeches and performances,” recalled Hirota, noting that Harker students and their WFLMS buddies had been faithfully corresponding since the fall.
Reflecting on the trip, grade 7 student Jatin Kohli said he really enjoyed the homestay with his buddy and the time they spent walking along the Huangpu River and the Bund, a famous waterfront area. “I wish our buddies could have joined us on our trip north to Beijing. The trip felt too short and I wish I had more time,” he said.
Grade 8 student Julia Amick added, “My favorite part of the homestay was getting to tour around Shanghai with my buddy and her parents and trying new and exotic foods like stinky tofu!”