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China as Our Classroom

China Trip, Fall 2014

“Living in another country is like being in an around the clock classroom”(1). New Oasis wanted to provide this type of “classroom” experience for several of our partner educators. By inviting guests to China for 14 days New Oasis was able to provide a glimpse into the experience of, and emotions felt by, the international students studying at at their schools.

Educators from St. David’s School, Westminster Schools of Augusta, Augusta Preparatory School, Greensboro Day School, Gaston Day School, Westchester Country Day School, Ravenscroft School and Providence Day School joined the travels led by New Oasis President, Sean Chen . During their two weeks abroad the group spent time in Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai and Wuhan.

Meeting prospective students was an important component of the trip. School representatives were able to interview students, attend school fairs and visit Chinese high schools.  Each representative was provided the opportunity to present information and highlights on their school. This experience served to help educators better understand the students and their educational background, in addition to seeking future candidates for their schools. These visits were organized by the New Oasis team that live and work in China.

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Another highlight of the trip was meeting international student parents. Educators connected with families that currently have students studying at one of the visiting schools. A family in Hangzhou even welcomed the group to their home for a traditional dinner. Educators left more connected to the feelings and concerns of parents who have children studying abroad.

The group also enjoyed sightseeing at famous locations such as Yu Yuan Gardens, the Lingyin Temple and the Great Wall of China. Savoring traditional Chinese cuisine was a shared experience for the guests, many of whom were visiting China for the first time. Shopping in Shanghai was another activity appreciated by the travelers!

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To read more about the trip we encourage you to visit Westminster Schools of Augusta blog. Upper School Principal, Joey Mendez, kept excellent details of the trip on the upper school’s blog.

  1. Sconyers, Melissa (viaIESabroad). “Living in another country is like being in an around-the-clock classroom.” 17 November 2014, 7:30 p.m. Tweet

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In the News: Vail Mountain School launches international program

Originally published in Vail Daily, April 26, 2014

VMS International Program Coordinator Leela Greenberg meets with a student in China.

VMS International Program Coordinator Leela Greenberg meets with a student in China.

VAIL — Vail Mountain School’s Leela Greenberg has a double degree in Chinese and Spanish, spent a year in Spain as a Fulbright scholar and studied abroad in China and Taiwan. When VMS decided to start an international program, she got the nod.

She’s now the school’s international program coordinator, and next year, VMS will host up to 10 students from Asia and Europe, with a goal of up to 30 in the near future.

Greenberg just returned from a tour of Chinese schools with New Oasis International Education, where she met Vail Mountain School’s first official international student, Li Dongling, from Chengdu, China.

World citizens

“As political and cultural walls continue to open, many students have a genuine appetite for cultural exchange and exploration,” Greenberg said.

She said a 13-year-old boy she met in Beijing sums it up perfectly.

“I know I will learn so much from American friends in a U.S. school. The more we make friends, the more America and China will get along in the future. This is very important.”

The majority of VMS’ international students will come from China. They’re scheduled to stay for one academic year with the option of staying through graduation.

The long term vision for the program includes partnerships with schools in Asia, Europe and South America, student and faculty exchanges around the globe, an array of study abroad trips and dual degree programs with foreign high schools.

Local families

Local families will host the international students. The host family must live near VMS and must provide meals, transportation and a private bedroom. There is some compensation for host families, and they’ll be screened by New Oasis.

In each of the four cities Greenberg visited, she interviewed students who had selected Vail Mountain School as one of their top choice schools. She said they were interested in academic programs such as the Harvard Leadership Institute, as well as school traditions including Ski Friday.

“Generally, students in China are familiar with New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, but few had heard of Colorado before they were introduced to VMS,” Greenberg said. “These students come from urban areas with populations between 14 million to 28 million, so it’s hard for them to conceptualize a place like Vail.”

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Reflections From the Head of School – Dr. Lewis

Dr. Lewis, Cape Henry Collegiate’s Head of School writes about his thoughts on the New Oasis trip to China

Originally published on Cape Henry College’s Facebook page

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If you happen to get lost walking the streets of a Chinese city and you are worried about your Asian language skills, don’t be too concerned.  Just ask a high school student for directions. You will most likely get a response in English and you’ll be safely on your way.  But, if you really want to be impressed, ask a middle school student for the directions. You will most likely get a response in English and also enjoy a conversation about Chinese culture, American food and where to find the best shops in town.  Young students in China are determined to learn and speak English and they enjoy meeting English-speaking visitors.

Earlier this month I traveled to China as a member of a small delegation of educators. Our purpose was to understand and experience the Chinese education system and culture.  During our journey, we toured some of the leading experimental schools as well as highly regarded language schools. I had the opportunity to speak with educational leaders, teach classes, and meet students, parents and teachers from the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen.  Through conversations and observations I learned about the Chinese education system and the formidable challenges presented to a fast-developing nation that values its population of 1.4 billion citizens – which amounts to 20% of the World’s population.

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The top students in China are bright, curious, inquisitive, ambitious and keenly focused on academic excellence in high school and beyond.  They study in a highly competitive environment. Throughout the entire visit, I was struck by their stalwart academic commitment.   And it appears to me, that the fundamental reason students attend school in China is to master the core curriculum. The extra-long school days and the six-day school week are normal and required for success.  A strong concentration on reading, math and science is the underpinning of the educational plan and essential for success when taking competitive (and often destiny controlling) national tests.  It also seems to me that student success in China is a product of a culture that prioritizes pure academic achievement over all other pursuits.  This success is partially due to the fact that students are engaged in the successful learning of the curriculum enhanced by carefully measured opportunities in the arts and athletics.

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When not attending a school visit or educational fair, immersion in China’s deep and unique history and ancient rituals claimed top priority.  I stood in Tiananmen Square, walked The Forbidden City, gazed at the 600 year old Temple of the Heavens – built without 1 nail, climbed the steps of The Great Wall, rode a cable car to the top of Qingcheng Mountain, photographed the Pandas, marveled at the 2000 year old Dujiang Yan Irrigation System, admired Olympic Stadium, ferried the West Lake, sampled traditional Chinese foods, drank tea, and shopped at Zhenzhu Pearl Market.  The trip was truly awe-inspiring.

During the flights back and still today, I continue to review the images and emotions from this trip.  I think about my discussions of Asian art, music, sculpture, wood-carving, calligraphy, symbolism, dance, and the engineering behind massive irrigation systems, Panda bears, family values and, of course, they many possible opportunities for CHC students and teachers.  I came home with a lasting appreciation for the Chinese people, the beauty and culture of their country and their unwavering commitment to the education of their children and their contributions to the enrichment of our world.

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