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From Charlotte to Cuba: A trip of Thanksgiving

Category : Student success



From November 20-28, Andy Gong, a senior at Charlotte Country Day School, Sharon Qian, a sophomore at Charlotte Country Day School, and 20 of their peers traveled to Cuba on a journey of service and cultural exchange.

The student-initiated trip took place during the students’ Thanksgiving break, and gave students the chance to experience authentic Cuban life while giving back to the community.

Andy served on the team of students who planned the trip, deciding where to visit and which activities to attend. He was inspired to make the trip happen, and worked to draft student applications and vetted applicants.

So, “why Cuba,” you may ask?

“(Cuba) is so close, but so far,” Gong said.

“Traveling to Cuba feels like traveling back in time – old fashion cars; no 4G network or PlayStation; primarily an agriculture society; go to bed with the lamp and get up with the lark— With the opening of Cuba as a reformation and the normalization of the U.S. – Cuban relationship, we may never be able to see what Cuba is like today if (big western businesses) like Starbucks and Papa John’s get into the Cuban market. We wanted to spot the authentic Cuba before it becomes an ordinary Caribbean resort country.”

DSC_4707During the trip, the students visited an organic garden and a textbook printing shop, where they were able to act in service, interact and help out members of the local community.

When they weren’t giving back to the community, they were able to visit a local high school, discuss economics with a Cuban professor, take dance lessons and play a baseball game with the locals. They were even able to spend a little bit of time on the beach and enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with Cuban ingredients in Trinidad.

“We engaged in many cultural activities—visiting medical clinics, art galleries, and even a club! By doing so, we got to talk to the locals about their lifestyles and learned the authentic Cuban culture and customs and its own people and their passion and dreams,” Gong said.

“When we had the conversation with Cuban high school students – regardless of nationalities and differences, our passions on music (and) sports, (and our) eagerness to learn about a different culture instantly brought us close together to have peer-to-peer engagement.”

Dan Brown, homestay regional manager, served as the New Oasis student coordinator for the Charlotte area last year, and worked closely with Andy and Sharon.

“Andy is an exceptionally driven student who forges his own path.  He takes every opportunity that comes his way and creates his own if they don’t,” Brown said.

“He has the kind of positive, humorous attitude that builds a near instant rapport.  I look forward to reading about Andy in a few years, as he begins to find his place in the world.”

Brown said Sharon is also an academically-focused student.DSC_4658

“Sharon is an eager student who takes her work seriously.  Her academic power is wonderfully at odds with her humble, mild manner.  She is truly making the most of this study experience and has a promising academic career ahead of her at Charlotte Country Day.”

A complete recap of the story, including photos and updates, can be found at https://ccdscuba2015.shutterfly.com/

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Giving back: New Oasis, the Virginia Beach community and the Morrills

Category : Spotlights

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HERNDON, VA. — In June of 2012, Kristy Morrill, Virginia Beach student coordinator for New Oasis International Education, learned that her sister, Kendra Atherton, was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of unknown primary site (ACUPS), a life-threatening cancer.

After her diagnosis, Atherton started her battle with vengeance. A personal trainer by trade, she continued to eat healthy and inspire others as a positive role model. A devoted mother and friend, Atherton always tried to be there for everyone.

Atherton passed away on November 24, 2012.

A year later, Morrill and her family created an event, “K5K: A Run for Kendra,” to honor Athernon’s legacy, while giving back to the community and helping those who are also overcoming losses to cancer. The event raises funds for students at local high schools who have lost family members to cancer.

According to the K5K official website, since the founding of the run, it has raised more than $25,000 to support students in the Virginia Beach community.

Now, three years later, in 2015, the event is an annual occurrence in the Virginia Beach area. When New Oasis staff learned about the event from a casual conversation with Morrill, they immediately decided to form a team and sponsor the event.

On Saturday, Nov. 21, a team of staff from New Oasis will join Kristy and her family in running the 5K along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk to lift up one of its own in the spirit of community.

“I can’t tell you how much it means that New Oasis is sponsoring the event,” Morrill said.

Morrill works for New Oasis as a student coordinator in the Virginia Beach area where she assists international students at Cape Henry Collegiate School with their immersion into an American education system.

“Morrill is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet,” said Tammy Becker, homestay regional manager for New Oasis.

“She is always putting others first, and goes out of her way to provide nurturing care to every one of her students. When we were presented with the opportunity to assist a new staff member, we didn’t hesitate to act.”

New Oasis was founded in 2008 and partners with the most competitive private high schools in the United States. For more information about New Oasis or the 5K, contact Mike Atkinson at matkinson@newoasisedu.com or 703-870-7260.


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New Oasis students shine at CNU Regional High School Mathematics Contest

Category : Student success

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Some students can’t wait for the weekend, where they will get a break from the pressures of school, but 13 students at Cape Henry Collegiate School spent their Saturday competing in the Christopher Newport University Regional High School Mathematics Contest on Nov. 14.

Of all the students participating in the contest, primarily from public schools in the region, New Oasis students at Cape Henry took home a number of honors.

Grace Li was the highest scoring 11th grader, Cape Henry’s highest scorer and the third-highest scorer of all students who participated.

Cape Henry Collegiate had seven students place in the overall top-ten: Grace Li, Andy Hong, Daisy Zhang, Justin Dubik, James Tyler, and another who preferred not to be named.

Hong, Zhang, Li are are New Oasis students. James Tyler, a Cape Henry student, was the highest-scoring ninth-grade student.

Not only are these students bright and enthusiastic, they are considerate and respectful.  Tyler Faubert, who drove the students over and back, said each student shook hands with him and thanked him as they left the bus!

All participants in the competition were:  Tom Chen, Justin Dubik, Andy Hong, Grace Li, Nicole Rychagov, James Tyler, Daisy Yang, Daisy Zhang, Harry Zhang, Wenxi Zhang, and Frank Zhu.

Congratulations to all Cape Henry students for a successful weekend!

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