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2014 Winter China Studies Program

Date:2014-08-22   Author:   From:IESC

"It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!" So declared many American students who excitingly shared their thoughts with their parents, after landing at Newark International Airport. 

Sixteen students and teachers from Eastchester High School and Pelham Memorial High School in New York returned safely after a ten-day educational trip in China. Even after thirteen hours of the long-haul flight from China, the group greeted their families with cheer and excitement on their faces. 

This is the fourth year that IESC has organized the China Studies Program (CSP) for high school students in New York. The program consists of (1) four language classes on basic conversational Chinese, (2) four online, academic seminars with an instructor from Hong Kong, and (3) a trip to China to experience the culture first hand by visiting four cities. 

Academic Focus. The online sessions are conducted by IESC consultant Tim Parkinson, who leads the CSP teaching team with support from the Social-studies teacher Mrs. Betty Crowley of Eastchester High School. They create original learning materials for students who have a desire to understand and travel to China. The four academic seminars focus on various topics of China, including its economy, politics, education and the cultural differences between the East and West. In CSP and with Mr. Parkinson’s help, students are asked to periodically compose essays tied to what they are learning.  Students regularly receive personalized feedback from the teaching team.

Learn Mandarin Chinese. This year, IESC piloted a Mandarin-study program in order to better prepare the CSP students with the basics of the Chinese language and useful travel phrases. Lessons were designed and delivered by IESC staff, Cara Cao, a Chinese native who recently graduated from Fordham University with a Master’s degree in Second Language Teaching. Students commended that the Mandarin lessons broadened their cultural perspective; many students expressed interest to pursue additional Mandarin studies in the future. 

The much-anticipated trip started on April 10th, 2014. The group first arrived in Beijing, the capital of China and a city with more than 3,000 years of history. Students were able to visit many places of historical significance, including the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, as well as Tiananmen Square. Walking through old alleyways in Beijing, students immersed themselves into the ancient beauty of all that Beijing can offer. 

Home-Stay with a Chinese Family. Students all said that a highlight of the China trip was living with a Chinese family. Working in collaboration with its partner high school in Shenyang, IESC staff organized students to stay with local host families and mingle with children of a similar age. Chinese and American students learned about each other’s cultural traditions, daily living, normal school life, and various subjects at school. This unique, cross-culture experience left a deep impression on students. After the home-stay, students exchanged letters with their host sister or brother. All the students agreed to keep in touch after this program. 

The last portion of the trip contrasted the cultural traditions of old China with the very new. Students experienced modern China by visiting both Shanghai and Hong Kong. In these two great cities, students gained insight into China’s surging economy and saw the consequences of its recent economic development.  Here the students witnessed firsthand how China has maintained its traditions while assimilating Western culture and living. 

IESC gears up for 2015 China Studies Program.  IESC believes that the intense experience of visiting China and the new relationships developed between American and Chinese students will bear fruit for many years to come. 

The CSP academic learning, trip, and cultural exchange are only the beginning of a much deeper collaboration between the two counties. With this as its mission, we look forward to starting the process to organize the 2015 CSP. 

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