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Eastchester High School and Pelham Memorial High School :A Journey to The East

Date:2015-4-5   Author:   From:IESC

"I can't believe my host sister was born the same day as me!" Gabrielle, a 10th-grade student from Pelham Memorial High School, said to us that she had never felt so connected with someone who lived thousands of miles away from her. Yet here she was, sharing her stories with a girl from Liaoning Province Shiyan High School, who hosted Gabrielle's stay during her visit in Shenyang, China.

For Gabrielle, although meeting with her host sister with the exact same birth date was a mere coincidence, choosing IESC’s China Studies Programwas not at all. For the past five years, she had heard about a number of components that this program offered includingfour online seminars, four mandarin sessions, and one ten-day trip to China. She had been waiting for her time to join the program and at last she was able to participate.

During the ten-day trip, students and teachers from Eastchester High School and Pelham Memorial High Schoolvisited four cities in China: Beijing, Xi'an, Shenyang and Shanghai. When asked which city was their favorite, students provided different answersabout their personal preferences: "I definitely loved the Great Wall of China, especially when I actually climbed the Wall, it meant even more to me. I video-chatted with my family on the Wall!" said Amanda, a senior student at Eastchester High School. This was Amanda's first time traveling alone and away from her family. She said, "It is not as hard as I thought it was going to be. Seeing a different culture made me become more aware of my own."

Ilana, a junior student from Eastchester High, talked about how she fell in love with Xi'an. "I never thought I would be able to finish a ten-mile bike-ride in less than two hours! Oh did I mention that I accomplished that on an ancient city wall that has been guarding the old city for more than 700 years!" Her friend Margaret also shared her excitement for Xi'an, "The Terra Cotta Soldiers, and all the ancient architecture were among my favorites for sure. But my most impressive time was spent at the calligraphy seminarat the Buddhist temple. I even learned to understand what my name meant in Chinese. It was so beautiful."

Boys from Pelham Memorial High School all agreed that they loved Shanghai for its combination of western and eastern flares."I initially could not stand the crowdedness in most of the cities of China. However, I began to appreciate how the Chinese people were able to see the order from the chaos and that experience was truly eye-opening." says Liam, a sophomore student at Pelham Memorial High School.

Every day,the group travelled to places on the bus, students were encouraged to share their thoughts and asked questions of the IESC group leader, Effie Cao, who wasnot only their travel companion, but also a mentor. Effiesaw herself as someone to help and guide students’ understanding of the Chinese culture, people's lives and what this overseas travel experience could mean to them. 

Most importantly, students learned from each other. By sharing this trip and living together for ten days, they learned to accept another way of living, and through that culture,the students learned to appreciate and understand each other.

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