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Inaugural Summer Activities Contest Winner: 2nd Prize

During the summer of 2015, for the first time in the history of New Oasis International Education, students were able to participate in the Annual Summer Activities Contest.

The New Oasis Summer Activity Contest was designed to engage high school students to participate in quality summer activities in any field of interest to them. Students were encouraged to participate as individuals, or as a team.

Throughout the next several days, we will announce the winners.

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2nd prize ($2000): Rena Gao’s “Morocco: The Colorful Nation”

When Ravenscroft School student, Rena Gao, visited Morocco this past summer, she was immediately struck by the colors throughout the streets.

Gao spent her summer in Rabat, in a specific area known as “Old Medina.” Medina consists of countless, intertwining, narrow streets with walls painted in bright colors.

Gao submitted an essay, which she divided into five colors, each depicting an aspect of Moroccan culture she found interesting.

In her own words, here are the colors Gao chose, and an excerpt of her essay for each:

Orange (family):

“When I first arrived in my host family who lived in a typical well-constructed riad in the middle of the maze-like Medina, they were having a funeral for my host sister, Sarah’s uncle. The living room was full of people sitting on sofas and the whole house was filled with different pitches of talking.

Overwhelmed by the crowd, who were all dressed in an unfamiliar style and speaking an unfamiliar language, I chose to hide in my room unpacking. Soon, there was knocking on the door followed by an influx of girls of different ages, looking shy but eager…”

“…Musique! Musique! Musique!”  They chanted after discovering the lists of songs on my phone. Therefore we started to dance. All the timidity ten minutes ago vanished and transformed into unique dance moves and lightened-up eyes. They hugged me and combed my hair as if we were family who had known each other for years. And yes we are family at first sight.”

Black to White (Religion):

“Islam is the most popular religion in the country. Most of the women wear Muslim headscarves in public. Nowadays, all the news stories involving Islam only report the terrible deeds of Islamic terrorist

groups. I, as well as many people who know little about this religion, tended to view people in traditional Islamic clothes and head scarves as dangerous, but ignorance leads to incorrect suspicions. No matter how tolerant we think of ourselves, the one­-sided media has heightened the presence of a negative stereotype toward Islam. I was scared when I first walked into my host family where al of the women wore head scarves. However, many of these “scary” women came up and greeted me ‘salam alaykum,’ which means “peace upon you…”

“…I have only grasped a little of this complicated and fascinating religion, but my understanding of it has gone from complete ignorant “black” to a clearer “white.”

Red (food):

“Red represents energy, passion and love. Do you know how and what Moroccans eat?

At my first meal there, I saw, in total surprise and horror, that my host family all used their hands to grab food from the same container. Uncomfortable and doubtful as I was with the idea of handling my food with my hands, I was too hungry to resist the gourmet on the table. That was when I fell in love with the Moroccan way of eating. Because we all ate from the same dish, we had to sit closer to each other and the intimacy among people naturally increased. The thrill of eating increased drastically when there were no middle-men such as forks, spoons or chopsticks standing in the way between you and food…”

Yellow (people):

“Yellow represents happiness, joy and cheerfulness. Moroccan people are the warmest and most welcoming ones I have ever encountered. Their way of greeting people is two kisses on the cheeks and a big hug, even if you have just met…”

“…If I smile at strangers on the street, they would smile back and sometimes even wittily blink at me. When I struggle with the shoe-keeper to figure out the price, someone nearby would kindly lend a hand to explain to me in English or French…”

“Before my expedition to this magical country, I thought Morooco and Manoc were the same thing. Now when I think of Morocco, I remember the colorful streets, my enthusiastic host family, the religion, their unique food, and the nice, welcoming people. This northern African country is no longer just a irregular shape on the globe, it has captured my eyes, tongue and soul. I revisit this homey place all the time in my dream. It has been calling me to come back.”

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China Trip Update: Home Visits

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A team of 16 leaders from New Oasis partner schools are in China with New Oasis. Updates are from Kathy Freeman, Director of Partnerships, U.S.

Oh my! We had a BLAST at our mini Homestay tonight! What a precious mom and daughter.

Plus she had a friend in from Italy, France and other parts of China to teach us how to make traditional dumplings! They also taught us how to perform an authentic tea ceremony. The students prepared the appetizers and the served a “global” meal. Belgian beer, Italian and French wines, ribs, Japanese-style ribs, dumplings, wings, pizza, salad and homemade authentic tiramisu! It was to die for…beyond words. I think all three groups had an amazing night but we definitely thought ours was extra special.


Kathy Freeman,
Director of Partnerships, U.S.

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Inaugural Summer Activities Contest Winners: 1st Prize

During the summer of 2015, for the first time in the history of New Oasis International Education, students were able to participate in the Annual Summer Activities Contest.

The New Oasis Summer Activity Contest was designed to engage high school students to participate in quality summer activities in any field of interest to them. Students were encouraged to participate as individuals, or as a team.

Throughout the next several days, we will announce the winners.

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1st Prize Winner ($3000): Sunny Zhu’s “Establishing A Boundless Classroom”

Many students during summer vacation will spend time outside playing with friends, watching TV, and enjoying a break from the hustle-and-bustle of school. Sunny Zhu is not “many students.”

Zhu planned a volunteer teaching project to help underprivileged youth in China who have all of the basic educational resources, but who are often ignored by many volunteer organizations.

Zhu connected with the principal of Majing Hope Elementary School, located in Guizhou, China, and explained her idea. After getting approval from the principal, she presented her idea to the school headmaster and received full approval from the school.

After receiving approval from the school, Zhu recruited a team of peers, many from her New Oasis partner school, Cape Henry Collegiate School, to help with the project. The group of seven volunteers met to discuss the class schedule and textbook for the teaching project.

Zhu’s peers on the project were Tom Honghao Chen, George Jingdong Gao, Judy Yixuan Yu, Sam Wenxi Zhang and Jonathan Tianyi Cui.

The goal of Zhu’s project is to bring the students in the village the opportunity to experience the advantages of traditional Chinese education and the freedom and advancement of American education.

Zhu and her peers traveled to China from June 7-20, one month before the school’s summer vacation began.

After a summer of a bumpy start, and a great improvement, the principal of the primary school thanked Zhu and her team, noting “now the younger generation is like the bleak night sky; everyone is hiding themselves in the dark, and staring at their own future selfishly. You guys are those few stars shining there, generously becoming the guideline for those people who need help to find their way back.”

Upon returning to Cape Henry Collegiate, Zhu worked to start a club for this project to become an annual summer volunteer opportunity for Cape Henry students.

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