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What We Learned in China

Intersession is something of a labor of love for teachers.  Planning, managing, and executing a weeklong itinerary can be stressful at best, but the looks on our kids’ faces when they get to see and experience something new makes it all the work pay off. 

Which brings us to China. 

This year’s China Intersession brought new travel experiences for everyone involved.  For most of us, this was our first trip to China, and we didn’t fully know what to expect. When we landed in Beijing, what we saw challenged many of our preconceived notions about China and began a week of learning that far outpaced anything we could learn in the classroom alone.

We learned that Beijing is very clean despite being one of the most populated cities on Earth, as an army of workers commits itself to keeping it tidy for residents and visitors alike.

We learned that Chinese people are among some of the friendliest in the world, and that they love to take photos of visitors to their country, sometimes even approaching and asking to practice their English with native speakers. 

We learned that China’s cultural history is remarkably symbolic and reverential toward nature, and that even today China is working to improve its air quality and oneness with nature by reducing emissions, enacting massive free bike-sharing programs for all people, and planting millions of new trees.  In 2018 alone, China has assigned 60,000 soldiers to plant new trees in an area the size of Ireland. 

We learned that the stairs at the Great Wall of China are incredibly steep, but that getting to sled down from the Wall on a toboggan track makes falling totally worth it.

We learned that giant pandas are, indeed, quite large—gentle giants who spend most of their days eating and lazing about while their zookeepers work tirelessly to help repopulate the vulnerable species.

We learned that traveling as a group is an excellent way to get to know each other better and create bonds and memories that we will all carry forward into our own lives.

And personally, I learned that I can’t wait to go back.

Corrie Sarol
Upper School English