From Ms Wang
Through an exchange program, five LaSalle II eighth graders had an exciting two-week visit to Beijing in November 2015.
We travelled to Beijing along with ten students from LaSalle. We not only experienced life in BFLS (Beijing Foreign Language School), but also were able to visit the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, the Olympic Park (the Birds’ Nest and the Water Cube) and other cultural and historical sites.
We also had an exciting excursion to the Great Wall. There is a Chinese saying: “You are not a hero until you climb to the top of the Great Wall.” It was chilly, snowy and slippery when we climbed the Great Wall, but students climbed to the top and had a blast!
Students also had an opportunity to visit a number of Beijing markets including Walmart and were able to use their mastery of Chinese to bargain for items of interest. On the last day in Beijing, we went to a local family who prepared a home-made lunch for all of us. The house owner showed students how to wrap dumplings and students were able to try their hand at this activity.
At BFLS, students had the opportunity to create a seal using carving tools under the guidance of a well-known expert in this art form. They also had classes in Chinese traditional painting and mask painting. BFLS also arranged for our students to learn martial arts. The students loved all the classes very much. At the end of the classes, every student had created their own seal, Chinese painting and a painted mask.
The BFLS also arranged for a teacher to teach two oral Chinese classes that included how to interact with host families and how to bargain in a market place. After the class, the BFLS arranged for all of us to take taxis to a local shopping center to practice shopping in China.
On the two Friday afternoons, each student was picked up by their host family with whom they spent the weekends. This was truly an immersion experience. The Chinese families treated our students like their own children.
Each day throughout the two-week visit, the Chinese partner students came to meet our students for dinner. A lot of good friendships were established. We can hardly wait until the Chinese students come to visit us in Chicago.
At the Farewell party, all fifteen students stood on the stage and expressed (in Chinese) their thanks to the school, to the teachers, to the families and to their Chinese partners. Our students also gave a group performance that included singing and dancing. In addition, LaSalle II students, Mia gave a solo and Andrea did an individual dance. At the end of the party, all fifteen students and three teachers received gifts from BFLS.
This exchange experience has dramatically broadened the world view of our students as well as that of our and will surely have an impact on them in the months and years ahead.