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Experiencing a Breathtaking China

20170925 Experiencing-a-Breathtaking-China-BANNER

Week Without Walls (WWW) is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year for our students in the Elementary and Secondary Schools. With a focus to travel and learn more about the culture, traditions, history, and uniqueness of our host country, China, the week is also organized with fun-filled activities planned on numerous trips off campus. Elementary School students usually travel in April, while Secondary School students embark on journeys out of Beijing at the beginning of the school year. Believing it is essential to connect China to the world through as many aspects of school life as possible, we have made WWW a full week extravaganza dedicated to allowing our students to not only see more of our host country, but also feel it, taste it, and truly experience it in every respect through age-appropriate activities, such as farming with locals and hiking in interesting locales, arranged for each day of the week. Previously, WWW was called Experience China Week (ECW). However, desiring to encourage students to truly live and breathe all things Chinese; gain the ability to learn within different and diversified cultures across the world as model global citizens; and develop the ethos that learning also happens outside of the classroom walls, the name was changed to reflect a more expanded and enriched week-long event

This school year, our Secondary School students, filled with a little fear, but also with much excitement and curiosity, headed into the unknown. For many, it was their first time away from home, signifying a great sense of responsibility and newfound freedom. One can certainly imagine the anxiety and excitement they felt as they embarked on their journeys. With great expectations, our students traveled to Shaolin, Shandong, Inner Mongolia, Dalian, Moganshan, and Shanxi with their respective peers and teachers. Among these, we would like to share some of the highlights of their travels around this wonderful land.

Our Grade 6 students visited the Shaolin Temple located at in the “Cradle of Chinese Civilization,” Henan province, where they met with actual Kung-Fu masters that taught them a series of moves, such as the Forward Stance and Elbow Strike. Most importantly, they gave sage advice to the young learners, mentioning they should always work hard to reach for their goals, remain courageous, and persevere, just like their disciples in the temple. Our young learners also visited the Longmen Grottoes, also known as the “Dragon Gate’s Grottoes,” where they observed some of the finest in Chinese Buddhist art. With over 100,000 statues of Buddha and his disciples housed within the 2,345 caves in the area, history certainly came alive for the students as they observed many of these images carved as outside rock reliefs and more.

Our Grade 8 students went to the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, where they learned how to be respectful of other cultures. The young minds slept in a yurt camp, which the consensus agreed was “freezing in the evening,” but certainly helped them build strength and character. The curiosity seekers marveled at the beauty of nature by doing exercises while surrounded by desert, grassland, lake, and mountain. They also hiked up the sacred summits of Anvil Mountain and Daqing Mountain. The highlight of their travels were however, taking part in the grassland activities played at the Naadam Festival, also known as “The Three Games of Men.” Horse racing, archery, and wrestling are said to have been very important exercises to Genghis Khan since they kept his army sharp and strong. Since the festival is the premier event of the year, all Mongolian people look forward to it, dressing in their best garbs for this special occasion. Hence, the students were able to experience an important celebration in the Inner Mongolian culture.

 

Our Grade 9 students went to the beautiful city of Dalian and visited the Modern History Museum, where they gained a better understanding of the area’s colonization history. They especially focused on the war that occurred between Russia and Japan. The learners were split into three groups, representing the three countries involved (Russia, Japan, and China) to uncover historical facts and gain a deeper understanding of the tragic history that played here. After gathering enough information, they were asked to act out the struggles each nation faced during this period and present why these foreign countries had a war in a third country. MYP and DP Chinese teacher Ms. Sun helped the students analyze the reasons and motivations behind the colonization, which they then brought into their dramatic performance. This exercise allowed the students to see a historical moment in the shoes of a different nationality than theirs. To further understand the importance of this event, the students visited the Russian and Japanese Prison in Lvshun, which many stated made them “depressed and shocked.” The visit “evoked reflection and contemplation of war” due to its great significance in China’s history. However, the main lesson they took from this was that for a country to be powerful, its youth must be well prepared and equipped to take on any challenge and overcome adversity.

Lastly, we would like to highlight the travels of our Grade 10 students that went to Moganshan, where they walked through bamboo forests and hiked up Mount Mogan for a most breathtaking view. Grade 10 student Astrid mentioned, “we were so exhausted to death, but we got to spend the whole day with our best friends and encouraged each other to hike until the end and persevere.” They made maps to get acquainted with their surroundings, which they immersed themselves in to learn how essential it is to maintain the natural beauty of the world alive. To further drive this point home, they worked the fields with the locals there, conversing with them on the ways of farming and life in the countryside. They actually harvested the vegetable they ate for dinner! They also weaved traditional baskets with the local elders that have been perfecting their craft for generations. Arguably, the most interesting activity of the trip was making rafts out of bamboo, string, and tubes, which the students then used to race across a reserve. Grade 10 student Rachel stated, “I not only enjoyed the building process, but also when we got into the water and tried our rafts. Although it rained heavily, we were all happy about seeing the scenery and working together.”

The students completely embraced the BCIS mission “to be compassionate and inspired people who act for the good of all” by being challenged and empowered throughout WWW. The activities they took part in helped them become stronger both physically and mentally. As Secondary School Principal Colleen Drisner stated, “Not only did our students explore new places, they also sharpened essential life skills, such as time and money management. They demonstrated resilience, organization skills, perseverance, and empathy towards others.” We know the learning process is always continuing around us. We don’t have to be confined within four walls to gain new knowledge and skills that will serve us well throughout our lives, and WWW certainly proves this to be the truth.

 

Special thanks to all the amazing students and teachers for providing invaluable information, photos, and support.

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BCIS is accredited by the CIS (Council of International Schools) and WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), which demonstrates that the school meets demanding international standards in all the areas of philosophy and objectives, curriculum, governance and management, staff, student support services, resources, and student and community life.Visit www.cois.org and www.acswasc.org for more information.

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation, motivated by its mission, focused on the student. The three programmes for students aged 3 to 19 help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Founded in 1968, IBO currently works with 2,771 schools in 138 countries to develop and offer three challenging programmes to over 763,000 students aged 3 to 19 years.Visit www.ibo.org for more information.

We live by a spirit of inspiring others, achieving ones goals and creating a better world.

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