Still in awe over their recent trip to China, the fifteen grade 8 participants have settled back into school – but with a new shared bond from an exciting, uplifting adventure.
The annual trip to China is a highlight and culmination of the middle school experience for these students, and something they look forward to for many years.
After arriving at the Pudong International Airport on March 29, the students were welcomed by their Chines buddies from the World Foreign Language Middle School (WFLMS), who presented them with bouquets of flowers. From there they hopped on a bus for the short drive into the city to meet their host families.
The next morning, upon arriving at WFLMS, the Harker students were warmly greeted by the school’s teachers and students. The day began with a welcome ceremony, broadcast to the entire school, followed by a fun scavenger hunt.
The group also attended a special art class where they learned about theater masks and had the opportunity to sketch and paint masks of their own. Additionally, they attended a “wushu” class, a form of martial arts and popular Chinese sport.
After giving PowerPoint presentations on American culture to their Chinese peers, the Harker students headed off to the cafeteria to make dumpling – almost as fun as eating them! The day ended with a spectacular show called “ERA Intersection of Time,” featuring a dramatic combination of circus-like acts, acrobats and dance set to music with special effects.
Soon after, the students were excited to set out for their first field trip, to Zhujiazhou, which is a beautiful canal town outside of Shanghai. There, they walked along the canals and narrow cobblestone streets, stopping occasionally to visit museums, a Buddhist temple, and a garden filled with rock structures which invited climbing.
“At one point we stopped our wandering so the kids could purchase live fish and turtles to release into the water as a symbol of good luck and character,” recalled Jennifer Walrod, Harker’s global education director, who accompanied the students on the trip.
From there, they enjoyed sightseeing and shopping, with many students trying their hand at bargaining, and several walking away with incredible deals. The final activity of the outing was a beautiful boat ride through the canals, or what Walrod referred to as the “Venice of Shanghai.”
That evening was bittersweet as both Harker and WFLMS students gave touching goodbye speeches and performances, preparing to depart for the next phase of the trip to Beijing. The Harker students’ first adventure in Beijing consisted of a rickshaw tour of the Hutong, or ancient alleyways that once covered the city.
Next on the itinerary was a visit to the Great Wall of China. Taking a ski lift to the top of the mountain, they entered onto the wall. Many photos were taken of the renowned structure, and the students were thrilled to take a toboggan ride back down the side of the mountain.
The contingent returned to Beijing the next day and visited Tiananmen Square, site of the 1989 protests and ensuing military action. They next headed to the Forbidden City, where they were guided through several of its 980 palatial buildings.
After enjoying lunch, they went to the Silk Street, a shopping center where they could continue to improve their haggling skills with its many vendors. From there they traveled to a final outing, Summer Palace, China’s largest imperial garden, and rode a dragon boat to the palace’s pavilion.
The students arrived back home on April 7, feeling both bonded and eager to share their trip experiences with friends and family.