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Arts Festival Sets Tone of Good Will

February, 2008
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On the stage, the five interlocking Olympic rings were formed by students wearing T-shirts in red, black, green, yellow and blue, waving their  IMG_9618hands, swaying, and singing together the Beijing Olympic theme song… A big round of applause was heard in the school theatre.

  That was the finale of the dazzling final performance of this year’s EAABIS (East Asian Association of British International Schools) Arts Festival hosted in Beijing February 21 to 24.

  IMG_9317 Coming into its third year, the EAABIS Arts Festival was joined by seven international schools across China, including British School of Beijing, British School of Nanjing, British School of Guangzhou, Dulwich College Shanghai, Dulwich College Beijing, Dulwich College Suzhou and Harrow International School Beijing. The number of students in the festival also jumped to 159 from 90 last year.

  2008 will mark China’s historic hosting of the Games, the theme of the festival is “One World, One Dream”. During the festival, all participating students were classified into five groups and joined in different workshops on music, drama, dance and art led by the art or music teachers from the seven schools. Finally, all their efforts culminated into a final performance and art display. IMG_9388

  For most students, it was their first time in the festival and working with counterparts from other schools. This made them very excited.

  “I was really excited. It’s really fun,” said May, a Year 6 girl from British School of Beijing who loves to perform. During the workshops, she learned dancing and practised bending her body, jumping, and lots of new movements. “It’s all new to me, and hard. Then we will perform and everyone claps, that is so fun!”

照片 079  May’s family also hosted two girls from the British School of Guangzhou, which is a special feature of the EAABIS event where students from other cities all homestay at Beijing students’ families. Mark Thomas, Head of Primary at the British School of Beijing pointed out that this provides a social opportunity for the children.

   “Many of them (students from other cities) are hosted, rather than staying in a hotel…so they really do form friendships and get used to the fact that you travel the world, you meet somebody, you get on with somebody, (and) you learn about their culture…It is a good example of the way the world should be, that we should be able to see each other’s cultures and get on with each other,” commented Thomas, who is also a member of the EAABIS Board.IMG_9442

  Thomas himself is impressed by the students’ great ability and strength in learning all the songs, dances, plays, and arts in just two days of workshops, then putting them together into such a tremendous performance.

  “The important thing I take from it is that children are able to learn vastly more than many people appreciate. It also shows what can be achieved in learning if you create the right environment and the right enthusiasm,” he said.

  IMG_9507 According to Tracey Hill, the coordinator of the event, EAABIS Arts Festival was the brainchild of Gilbard Honey-Jones, Headmaster of British School of Beijing and EAABIS chairman. The event aims to “create an opportunity for British international schools to get together and share their expertise in education,” she said.

  Currently, the festival has been targeting students in Years 6 and 7 mainly, because it is a nice way to link the year groups since in the British system Year 6 is the end of the primary school and Year 7 is the first year of secondary school.

  “They are also a good year group to have…They are quite willing to do everything, to try everything,” explained the BSB PE and dance teacher, adding that there are also plans to extend the festival to both younger and older age groups.IMG_9555

  The festival may be held in a different city next year, while a sports festival among EAABIS schools later this year is also in the works.

  Adam Johnson, Head of the British School of Nanjing, lead his group of six students to this festival for the first time. Adam believes it would be the ultimate goal to have all these British schools compete and work together, and maintain the British identity.

  “Basically what I would like to see in the next five to ten years would be (that) all of these schools doing this in not only performing arts but also in sports, math, and sciences…”

By Xing Yangjian

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