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QAIS Celebrates First Thanksgiving

November, 2011
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“In many ways, the spirit of Thanksgiving has never been more alive than it is today in Qingdao in the year 2011,” began Principal Chris Vicari, welcoming over 150 attendees to the First Amerasian Thanksgiving at Qingdao Amerasia International School (QAIS). The event provided a true community Thanksgiving spread (with traditional American fixings as well as pot luck provided by parents) as well as student performances and a parent-run flea market, raffle and auction to raise funds for Qingdao Orphanage. Altogether RMB7,250 was raised at the event, in addition to diapers, blankets and warm weather clothing per the orphanage’s request.

Qingdao Amerasia International School provides learning programs from early childhood through Grade 12. The curriculum is structured according to the rigorous USA Common Core Standards, and instruction is highly individualized according to the needs of each student. The QAIS campus overlooks the famed International Sailing Center in downtown Qingdao, and the school prizes the regular involvement of parents and local businesses in connecting students’ school life to the world around them.

While the assembly of students, parents, staff and guests were eager to tuck into a spread of traditional American Thanksgiving fixings and international potluck, all were pleased to take a few moments to relish this small school’s most recent breakthroughs.

Mr. Vicari announced that QAIS is now officially a candidate for International Baccalaureate World School status, which is a major step toward offering the IB’s acclaimed Diploma Program in coming years. Further, QAIS has signed a sister school agreement with the Whitby School of Greenwich, Connecticut. Whitby is the oldest Montessori school in the United States and, like QAIS, is committed to a fusion of Montessori methods with the International Baccalaureate framework. Through the exchange of staff, students and ideas, these two world-class learning communities will continue to nurture the qualities of international-mindedness and love of learning.

That spirit of service shared the spotlight with an exquisite Thanksgiving spread. The perfect turkey and pumpkin pie were donated and catered by nearby Cafe Roland, whose owner Mandy Zhao has been a proud QAIS parent for two years. The quality of the selection was praised by parent Jayne Shirra, whose daughters are in Early Childhood and Grade 2: “Along with foods from countries all over the world that were made by students families, everybody’s tastes have been catered for on a grand scale,” she said.

In his remarks, Mr. Vicari pointed out a number of parallels between the traditional ‘First Thanksgiving’ in North America and the QAIS event in Qingdao. Among them, of course, was the amazing selection of food; perhaps more importantly, though, of respect for our host society, and overwhelming appreciation for all those who have come together to support the school in providing a world-class, individualized education for students from all imaginable backgrounds. In raising funds for Qingdao Orphanage, the event also echoed the Native Americans’ empathy for European settlers in their time of need.

With excellent food, student performances, a warm sense of community, and gorgeous views of the Yellow Sea glistening in golden autumn sunshine, it was easy for guests to find things to be thankful for. Most important, as Principal Vicari urged, was to “give thanks for the beautiful children of QAIS — for in the end, this long and sometimes arduous journey all becomes worth it when we think of how our children will benefit from our efforts to love one another and to create a strong community with a common vision.”

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