The annual grade 8 trip to China was once again a fun-filled and enlightening experience for all. After arriving on May 29, the students did some sightseeing around the Shanghai area, visiting such places as the Oriental Pearl TV tower.
The next day, the students met with their friends at the World Foreign Language Middle School (WFLMS), where they took part in an assembly at which student Neil Sadhu gave a brief speech about the student exchange between the two schools. During their visit to the school, Harker students participated in a number of classes, including Chinese opera, where they made their own opera masks. They also learned about traditional Chinese musical instruments and had the chance to play them after watching the WFLMS students perform. Following lunch, the students visited the World Expo China exhibition, and that evening they viewed an amazing acrobat show.
Next on the itinerary was a visit to Zhujiajiao, the water town known for its canals and historic buildings dating back 1,700 years. Several students bought live fish and turtles that were released into the water to symbolize good luck.
After shopping and a scenic boat ride, the students then returned to WFLMS to watch the school’s P.E. classes and take part in a tug-of-war as well as several other sports with the Chinese students.
On May 31, everyone headed to the Yuyuan Gardens in downtown Shanghai to see the breathtaking Chinese architecture from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The students marveled at the ornate decorations of the gardens as they were led through the many pathways.
Back at WFLMS, the Harker students attended shadow boxing and painting classes, and learned how to use an abacus.
The students said goodbye to their buddies the next morning and hopped on a plane to Beijing. There, they visited the Temple of Heaven, which the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties visited annually to offer prayers for a good harvest. Next, they explored the hutongs, Beijing’s traditional alleyways, riding on rickshaws to the house of a man who allowed the students to take a tour of his home. The man graciously answered many of the students’ questions about his life and thoughts on a variety of subjects. Before leaving his home, he advised the students to appreciate all that they have in their lives.
The next stage of the trip saw the students leaving Beijing for the Ming Tombs. On the way, they visited a jade factory to learn more about the stone and see some of the items being made. Upon arriving at the tombs, the students couldn’t resist taking photos of the statues that lined the famous “spirit way.” They were led to the dragon-headed turtle pavilion, where they rubbed the statue’s tail for a long life, and its head for continued happiness.
The group’s next major stop was none other than the Great Wall of China. “We took a ski lift to the top of the mountain where we could enter onto the wall. It was amazing!” said Jennifer Walrod, Harker’s global education director. “It was a clear sunny day, and we could see for miles.” Many photos were taken of the renowned structure, and the students were thrilled to take a toboggan ride down the side of the mountain.
A dinner of Peking duck was enjoyed that evening, and the students were treated to a “Legend of Kung Fu” show, featuring graceful and skilled dancers.
The group arrived back in Beijing the next day and began “a busy and long day full of sightseeing,” wrote Walrod in one of several dispatches to parents. In the morning, they visited Tiananmen Square and spoke 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, the students went to the Silk Street, a shopping center where they could exercise their haggling skills with its many vendors. “We left the place carrying bags filled with our loot,” Walrod wrote. Later, the group arrived at the Summer Palace, China’s largest imperial garden, and rode a dragon boat to the palace’s pavilion. There, they enjoyed ice cream and viewed the paintings on the roof of the covered walkway.
The students arrived safely back home on June 6, ready to rest and reflect on a trip they won’t soon forget.