Review: China Exchange

During half-term, a group of ten Upper School pupils embarked on an exciting two-week exchange visit to China, setting off on Sunday 23rd October. 

Our itinerary encompassed one week in Beijing, five days in rural towns and villages in Guangxi province and 2 days in Guangzhou, one of China’s major financial centres. With this being the College’s first exchange visit to China, spirits and expectations were high. Crucially, our pupils proved to be excellent travelers in that they retained an open mind – fully embracing the experience of sampling the ‘Chinese way of life’ – whilst respecting differing cultural codes. It was especially inspiring to see how confident and willing our pupils were to engage with their host families and the local people during our visit.

GALLERY: Click here

There were three main objectives for the exchange. Firstly, to inspire a passion for the study of the Chinese language through contextualization; secondly, to improve pupils’ linguistic competency by total language immersion; finally, to enhance pupils’ understanding of Chinese culture through a mixture of historical and contemporary sightseeing alongside daily interaction with local people. The two-week trip was carefully designed to serve these three purposes, whilst simultaneously offering a wide variety of experiences and activities. Pupils were given the opportunity to sample both urban and rural lifestyles of China. Some highlights of the exchange visit included:

•    Great Wall Toboggan ride
•    Beijing 798 art zone visit
•    Rice terraced fields hike
•    Bamboo rafting on the Yu Long River
•    Cycling through the rice fields in Yangshuo
•    Hot spring in the Karst cave
•    Guangzhou Temple trip where some students joined in the chanting with Buddhist monks
•    Tasted a variety of Chinese cuisine

We were keen to offer our pupils the chance to make a positive contribution in the rural, un-developed parts of China we visited through community service. During the trip, we spent a morning visiting the “Yangshuo Special Education School”, which was the first school designed for children with disabilities to be built in Yangshuo County. Pupils took on the role of teaching assistants and led the class in several games and activities, which all thoroughly enjoyed.

We also visited the Karstaway Farm to learn about organic farming practices and to help the local farmers with ploughing, filling in a pond with hay, watering crops and planting soy beans.

The exchange visit proved to be a huge success both academically and socially. Not only did the pupils’ confidence in communicating in Mandarin strengthen significantly, they also enjoyed themselves immensely across several locations and during a wide variety of challenges and activities.

Click here to read a diary from the trip, written by Marlborough pupils.

Qingwei Li
Head of Mandarin Chinese

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