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WISS Students Explore China

November, 2012
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wiss-explore-chinaThe hallways of the secondary school building at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) were considerably quieter in the week of October 22, as Grades 6 to 10 jetted off on their Explore China trips, quickly followed by the Grade 11 delegation to the International Schools Theatre Association conference in Korea.
Explore China is a program designed to give students the opportunity to experience and learn more about China and its culture, and to promote team-building and collaboration between students in each grade level. By taking part in week-long adventures together, students are placed in situations where they need to collaborate and consider carefully each other’s views and feelings. They are exposed to new challenges and they are able to form new bonds outside the normal school environment.
With Grade 6 to 10 each having their adventure in different parts of China, and with the Grade 11 representing their school with drama groups from around the world on Jeju Island, South Korea, students had a huge number of opportunities to use all the skills that they cultivate as International Baccalaureate (IB) learners; to be a risk-taker, to be caring, and to demonstrate that they are principled. WISS is the only international school in Shanghai that is authorized to run all three IB programs: the Primary Years, Middle Years, and Diploma Programs. These programs help develop the whole student and guide young people ethically as well as academically to a brighter future.
The Grade 6 students took part in rock climbing, high and low rope courses, kayaking and abseiling. Their trip included one night’s camping where students cooked their own food around the campfire; something many children had never even tried before. They jumped at the chance to abseil, to go kayaking, and to scale complicated obstacle courses and rope bridges. Grade 7 students had an exciting adventure in Beijing. The purpose of the trip was to discover the ‘unexplored’ Beijing, beyond the usual tourist sites. Through activities like a home stay in a local village, a hike in a secluded portion of the Great Wall, an interactive photo exhibit, an artistic scavenger hunt, a dumpling making class, and a visit to traditional neighborhoods, students experienced independence, teamwork, physical challenges, and personal growth. “Friendships were strengthened and unforgettable memories were formed,” added Karin Fisher, Spanish Teacher at WISS and one of the Grade 7 trip leaders.
Grade 9 had a busy trip as well, visiting a local school, ancient city walls, museums and a monastery. At the monastery, the monks invited the students to see how they live and what their daily lives entail. They learned how to meditate, and all students and chaperones had a session of meditation – complete silence for ten minutes, which was harder to manage for some of the teachers than the students! Terri Mosher, Science Teacher and Grade 9 trip leader to Nanjing, was pleased with the overall success of their adventure, “It was a memorable trip, and the students got to truly experience China in an amazing place like the monastery at JiuHuaShan.”
From Moganshan to Korea, the students returned to school full of energy, stories, photographs, and experiences. They learnt valuable lessons about China and about the importance of peer relationships. The next trips at WISS are international trips around Africa and Asia; the excitement is already building. These trips are a valuable complement to the WISS academic program and greatly add to the bond of warmth within this inspiring school community.

 

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