On one of the final evenings we all gathered to talk about the experience and how we all are going to bring back pearls of wisdom to our teams, teachers, host families, and students on lessons learned. We all agreed that we now understand more acutely the pains of homesickness, the pure desire to succeed and achieve academic success our students feel, as well as their desire to have more time to “feed their soul,” as one student told us during an interview. From drawing, painting, and playing an instrument, to joining sport teams – the students’ desire to study abroad was clear, front and center.
There was just too much to observe, taste and reflect immediately. Just like we were told during our West Lake tour, it will all come to us, the right words, in time, because “no hurry, no worry.”
Farewell Beijing, “the First-Timers” are coming home!
Today, our team of partner schools did just that. We had the honor and opportunity to visit Huizhen Academy in Ningbo, China.
Interestingly enough, I had hosted a student from Ningbo for two years (2011-2013). As our colleagues walked the streets, I often thought of her walking these same streets.
We had two student translators, Emme and Secret. They were kind and very polite.
The school promotes kindness and its mission statement is “Caring for others. Enrich ourselves.” They have ten months in their academic year and two months for break. However, the students are not to take a break, and are expected to volunteer or work for a cause.
The students I ate lunch with worked at a nursing home, child care facility, and food kitchen.
During the tour we saw many impressive, hi- tech, classrooms and a very awesome track!
But it was the kindness that made us all appreciate the uniqueness of this school. It is innovative and very focused on creating a whole persons.
After we exchanged questions for one another, the head of school was very busy and we needed to say our goodbyes.
Lastly, students taught us calligraphy, and it moved us. It is always powerful when the student becomes the teacher.
As we left, I felt like we needed more time to process the experience, and we have more excitement and expos to go!
Shanghai is simply impressive.
For the past two days, our team of partner schools has been cared for so kindly by our China team members, Jane and Penny, and provided such a keen insight into an amazing powerful and influential city.
If Beijing represented China’s past, Shanghai is most certainly the future.
After the Opium War, Shanghai has grown with tremendous speed to be a city of creativity, financial power, and a status symbol of where China hopes to continue to grow.
From visiting the Jade Temple, Chinese Garden, museums and stores, the “first timers” are a bit overwhelmed.
Not in just the amazing experiences thus far, but by the vast contrast of what we expected.
As we sat on the 94th floor of the highest tower in Shanghai (well at least for three more months) we all reflected on the shocking differences in thought we are experiencing.
Mary Kay Napoli from Villa Maria Academy, said it best when she said “I was warned that China was dirty, faithless, and overly crowded.” As she paused, the group, in solidarity, understood how baseless these claims were.
Our New Oasis team has been amazed so far by the cleanliness of the streets, the array of floral arrangements everywhere (even the highways have hanging baskets!) and the immense spirituality the people express. And although we are in cities that have more than 20 million people, the people smile, say “nihao” and want to take photos with us!
It is the human connection of kindness and spirituality and respect for nature that is bringing a local perspective to a global community.
Words can not truly express what the past nine days have taught the group however one thing is certain- the discovery of connecting to another country is an overwhelming and changing experience!
Director of Homestay 360