A Most Satisfying China trip Experience…… (Part Two)

The students on this wonderful journey have continued to share with us their ongoing adventures in China. They have been totally immersed in the Chinese lifestyle and have constantly professed how much they are enjoying this unique experience. Being part of authentic local lifestyles has always been an integral aspect of an overseas experience, this trip is very unique in that students will be lucky enough to stay with four different families in four different areas. Two weeks in the first school and two shorter stays in two other very different schools, including the Number 6 Art School.

The timing of this trip couldn’t be better. Imagine being there during the Autumn Festival and being part of the celebrations…..amazing displays for people to enjoy.

AutumnFest

I must admit it really impressed me how much effort was made by locally based hosts to really welcome our students and for the visiting students’ very poignant show of appreciation and respect   for being accepted into the local students’ home in return. Regardless of the language barriers and the different culture of the hosts, clearly there was a strong sense of commitment and joy in being part of this exchange.

Declan’s artwork was a hit at Kunshan High School. All students with their buddies were represented in a most unique way. 

Declan

I could not keep up with the number of activities that were arranged for our students during their Homestay. Lots of fun and certainly many exciting adventures were in store for all of them, even whole group events planned to ensure that they were all entertained, enjoying their visit, and not missing each other. Meeting up with Dale in Shanghai was great as well.  We were able to all spend time together before the ‘tag team’ changeover occurred and Jenny and I headed home, so that Lucy and Dale could take over. We weren’t there to see our Collingwood students ‘blitz’ the Athletics Carnival, but by all accounts, they certainly put on an amazing show of determination and skill resulting in impressive success. I think one of the most amusing scenes was local students approaching Oscar for an autograph after one of his wins.

Go Team Collingwood! What a remarkable performance at the Athletics Competition…..our students impressed everyone with their many places and wins. A fantastic and enjoyable day for all. 

Race Race2 Race3

Another poignant moment on this trip was certainly the contract signing ceremony between the school Principal from Kunshan High School and our own Principal, Dale. For the Collingwood students and myself, this was the first time we had witnessed something like this. To make the claim that this was a rather formal affair almost sounds like an understatement. The formal surroundings of an impressive meeting room, politely worded expressions of gratitude from each of the school leaders, the exchange of gifts, formal photographs and the most important signing of the sister school contract all contributed to a rather special  afternoon’s event. I know that the students and I were a little awestruck with how important this event was in the eyes of our hosts. It seemed fitting for our students to end the ceremony with a beautiful singing piece that they had prepared from home. I was not aware of the importance and how highly esteemed a contract like this was deemed by our hosts, but having witnessed this event, both the students and I have walked away with a different outlook and feeling quite proud that our school was so valued.

The Signing  of the Sister School. We never thought that the signing of the Sister School Contract was such a formal and  important event. The Principals shared some very kind words and gifts. It really was  overwhelming listening to how much Collingwood was valued by such a prestigious school as Kunshan High School. An interesting and very intense experience. Our Collingwood ambassadors impressed everyone with their singing and their focus. 

Signing1 Signing2 Signing3

And so the journey continues. Our students expressed quite emotionally on the  China Trip ‘We Chats’ how difficult it was to move on from their first homestay placement. Strong friendships were developed with an undertaking form the school that they too will visit our shores next year and be a part of this special arrangement.

Fishy Visit!

Fishing

Tears, gifts and fond farewells made the parting rather difficult for most of the students as they took leave from Kunshan and headed off to Suzhou.  The farewell Ceremony from all accounts was difficult emotionally, but a beautiful finale to what has been a most successful and life enhancing experience. Our students did us proud with lovely speeches, impeccable behaviour and the sharing of sincere words of appreciation for all the efforts that the teachers, students and families of the school displayed for the last two weeks. They have now completed five days in Suzhou and it seems that once again it has been just as successful and gratifying as the last placement. They have been welcomed with open arms and treated with kindness, respect and total positivity. They have once again been hosted by lovely families, looked after by enthusiastic buddies and are having another wonderful experience. Tours have been arranged, great classes planned for them with the local students and as most of our students are saying, although initially they didn’t think they would be as happy here as they were in the previous school, they have been pleasantly surprised that it has been just as fantastic and wonderful, if not different to the first school.

Tong –Li, a beautiful old fashioned village that all the students really enjoyed exploring as part of a whole level excursion. Lovely scenery and impressive architecture.

TongLi

I hope that parents reading this article will hopefully be getting a sense of what a special opportunity this is for the students. They have embarked on a long journey, not really sure of what was in store for them, but have absolutely been delighted with what they have experienced thus far. To hear the exclamation of “Wow, have we really been gone almost four weeks? It feels only like a few days…” really captures the essence of a fast moving, most positive experience that all involved are having. I must admit, it has been one and a half weeks since my return, but I cannot forget how wonderful it was being a part of this extraordinary experience, so much so that I am in constant contact with our travellers and enjoying sharing their continuing adventures. I guess it is fair to say, as good as it is to be home and back at school, a little part of me wants to still be there…..three weeks was not nearly enough. I will continue my writings in the next E News.

Of course it’s not all hard work and no play! When the opportunity arises for fine dining, we grab it! Thank you Dale for approving this rather lavish dinner experience. :)

FineDining

 

These students certainly know how to enjoy life! A lovely way to spend a Saturday. (Taken before a bowling session)

Pre-bowling

 

Thank you for following the amazing China trip.

Cheers,

Liria Stratus

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