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China Trip Update: Snow at the Great Wall

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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.

The group posed for a beautiful photo this morning in our gorgeous hotel before weathering the snow! Yes… I said SNOW; plenty of it too! About 3-4 inches of snow fell at the Great Wall, but a snowy day didn’t stop this fantastic team one bit:)

Quite a bit of snow fell, which is unexpected and quite unusual for Beijing so early in November, but this group certainly proved today that they were definitely willing to say “yes” to any experience we offer them!

Flexibility and great attitudes best describes this team. They endured extremely cold and freezing temperatures with lots of snow all day and night as we had a slippery and snowy trek up the Great Wall, then on to The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Beijing Pearl Market, Olympic Village and famous Peking Roast duck dinner!

Although we were slipping and sliding our way around the Great Wall, a fantastic time was had by all!

We thaw out tonight, refresh and refuel and prepare to see our first set of students tomorrow at the Beijing Expo!IMG_2677

Kathy Freeman
Director of Partnerships, U.S.

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New Oasis Sponsors 2015 Fall Trip to China

Beijing skyline

In roughly 14 hours, 14 staff members from New Oasis partner schools will land in Beijing, China, where they will have two weeks full of learning opportunities, educational fairs and sightseeing.

Leaders from New Oasis partner schools, Battle Ground Academy; Saint Andrew’s School; Ravenscroft School; Providence Day School; Charlotte Country Day School; The Lovett School; The Derryfield School; Charlotte Christian School; Mount Pisgah Christian School; The Episcopal School of Dallas; and Greensboro Day School; and leadership from NCAIS and GISA, will join New Oasis President & CEO, Sean Chen, and Director of Partnerships-U.S. , Kathy Freeman, on a 14-day trip to China, sponsored by New Oasis. The group will travel to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Xi’an.

The trip presents the opportunity for American teachers and administration to better understand the culture from which their international students come.

The team will arrive at the New Oasis Headquarters in Herndon, Virginia on November 4, and will fly out of Dulles International Airport to Beijing.

Once in China, the team has an itinerary loaded with educational experiences, school visits and chances to learn more about Chinese culture. The trip will feature visits to Chinese landmarks, including the Olympic Bird’s Nest Stadium, the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and more.

The team will attend educational fairs in Beijing, visiting the schools from which their future students will come. Following its time in Beijing, the team will fly to Chengdu, and then to Xi’an, where they will visit the ancient Xi’an city walls.

While at the schools, New Oasis and partner school staff will give formal presentations about their respective schools to a Chinese audience.

The trip will conclude on November 17, with a visit to Shanghai.

New Oasis will be providing updates throughout the trip on its website and social media accounts.

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China Trip Recap: Guest Blog by Sister Regina Ryan (Villa Maria Academy)

Photo Sep 25, 10 47 21 AM

 

Sister Regina Ryan and a group of six staff members from New Oasis partner schools recently returned from China. Here is how Sister Regina Ryan, from Villa Maria Academy, recaps the trip:

Reflection of China Trip

Admittedly, China was never on my bucket list.  Before September 17, 2015 my impression of China was that of a large dismal landmass– gray always seemed to be the descriptive color in my head when I imagined this vast Communist nation.

I add the adjective “communist” because that ideology and system contributed to the reason that visiting there held no interest for me.  How misinformed I was, and how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to change the lens through which I viewed this fascinating country and its rich culture!  Below are some random thoughts accumulated over the four weeks since my return.

After a 14-hour flight, which was actually quite pleasant, we arrived in Beijing at 2:30 p.m. China time, on September 17, 2015, but 2:30 a.m. to our American bodies. Once through Chinese Immigration and Customs (attended by friendly agents), our group of seven was met by Daniel and Lily from the New Oasis team in China and so began my first connection with real Chinese people in China.

We wasted no time getting situated in our hotel and then headed out for a real Chinese dinner of no fewer than 15 dishes (ever), chosen thankfully by Daniel.  This introduction to Chinese cuisine was the beginning of an amazing variety of dishes and flavors that never failed to surprise the palate throughout the five different cities that we visited.  The next morning, after a good night’s sleep, we began our trip to the Great Wall on a hot but beautiful and clear Friday.  Riding through the city of Beijing we were so impressed by the planned layers of trees and flowers in the city itself, as well as the lovely landscape of the surrounding countryside.  Walking along the Great Wall, a structure that extends from West to East China, was a powerful experience when pondering on the army of manpower that built it over a period of centuries – symbolic of the endurance of the Chinese people.  Being a lover of history, I think this was one of my favorite experiences, seconded by the visit to Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square on Saturday.

I did find it quite remarkable to observe the long line of Chinese people snaking around Tiananmen Square to visit Mao’s remains on a Saturday morning.  Maybe his imposing portrait over the whole area had something to do with it, but never did I sense what formerly I would have labeled a spirit of communist oppression; only a strong sense of national pride.

The culture and historical sense offered by a few days in Beijing was later supplanted by a visit to Shanghai – a city with a population of 24 million people and an energy that makes New York City seem like a little village by comparison.  After a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple with very detailed explanation of what comprises a Chinese Garden, as well as a visit to a beautiful example of said garden, arriving at Shanghai’s the financial center and the Bund prompted me to remind myself that I still was in China.  What a land of contrasts and paradoxes and Shanghai seems to blend so well the East and the West.  I loved its energy and its people, especially our new friends, Penny and Jane.

This Chinese adventure included other cities besides the two biggest and well-known.  Arriving in Zhuhai in the south, so near Macau, reminded me of getting off a plane in Miami with the heat, humidity, palm trees and smell of the sea. Photo Sep 19, 1 13 24 PM

Once again wonderful people and a whole new variety of food awaited us as we toured around Macau, mimicked the pose of the Pearl Girl and visited the most elaborate fish market that I ever saw.  The beautiful city of Hangzhou and the West Lake boat ride were so serene and lovely, as was the city of Ningbo where we had the privilege of visiting a Chinese school.  That was another highlight of this trip since we were able to meet faculty and students, have lunch with them and then enjoy some discussion of school practices and ideas – what matters most to educators no matter where they live and work.

While the above provides a thumbnail picture of our trip to China it does not take into account the most fundamental and important aspect of experience and that was getting to meet and talk meaningfully to so many people at the various expos and agencies.

While we American educators had the privilege of presenting on certain topics of American education and also on our own particular schools, we also had the privilege of interviewing prospective candidates to our schools.

I learned so much from the thirty some young ladies that we interviewed, as well as all of the students with whom we played some games or celebrated with Moon Cakes.  I still think of those conversations and what they shared which has helped me in connecting with our Chinese students here at Villa Maria. Their passion for a good education was palpable and their love and pride for their country was so impressive.  This visit made me so aware that they had every reason to be proud to carry a Chinese passport.

Of course I cannot say enough for another group of people whom I had the privilege to know on this adventure and that is our Group of Seven.  Suzy and Julianne from New Oasis were delightful planners and organizers, so aware of every detail, as well as just plain fun to be with.

Our companions from Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina were so easy to travel with and also so supportive of all of our ventures.  It was a group of strangers on September 15 and a group of close-knit colleagues who said good-bye in Beijing’s airport on September 28.

Photo Sep 18, 11 26 46 AMOne person that I had only an opportunity to meet briefly but whom I hold in admiration and awe is Sean Chen, founder, President and CEO of New Oasis.  The philosophy of cultural openness and personal interaction on both sides of the Chinese International student exchange is clearly defined and realistically executed through the vision he brings to his company and the personal experiences that he made possible for me as part of this adventure will be embedded into my consciousness for the rest of my days.  I am most grateful!


Sister Regina J. Ryan, IHM, Ed.D.

Principal: Villa Maria Academy High School and traveler to China

 

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