Ten Trinity students of Chinese from Years 10 to 12, accompanied by two members of staff, bid farewell to their families during the early hours to spend 25 days in the capital of the oldest civilization in the East.
The long flight to Beijing and the cold weather did not diminish the excitement of the group. By the time they arrived at Renda Fuzhong, it was already quite late in the evening. After the dormitory rooms were allocated, they had only 20 minutes before the hot water was turned off for the evening. The rooms were plain and the beds were firm but cosy and warm.
For four days each week the students attended Chinese language lessons, which were taught by three different teachers. Every day there was also a cultural lesson covering such things as clay modelling, Chinese painting, carving and martial arts. These lessons were conducted mainly in Chinese and, while the students had initial difficulties understanding the teachers, with the addition of some instructions in English, they were able to follow the course content. After each day’s lessons and before dinner, some students often played soccer and mingled with the local students.
Once a week the boys enjoyed an excursion. They visited Tiananmen Square, the Imperial Palace, the National Museum – where they had to go through a heavy security check before being allowed entry, the Summer Palace, the Lama Temple, the Olympic Park, the Ming Tombs and the Sacred Walk. The most exhilarating experience was climbing the Great Wall. While the energetic boys reached the highest point on that section of the Wall first, their teacher struggled with the steep small steps but, urged on by the encouragement of the boys, eventually reached the top.
The students were billeted on the weekends, which was a fantastic experience for all. They were all well-treated by their hosts with one family buying a new bed just for their guest and others giving gifts upon arrival. The billeting families took the boys out sight-seeing and gave them the opportunity to try the local delicacies. The boys were all very well fed.
The students were looking forward to attending classes on the last two days of the exchange, but unfortunately, due to the hazardous smog alert, all classes were cancelled. Because the teachers had very little time to arrange alternative indoor activities for them, the boys ended up having a calligraphy lesson, went shopping at the Silk Market and visited other museums.
Despite the smog spoiling the last few days of the exchange, there is no doubt that when students immerse themselves in China they benefit from the wonderful opportunities to enjoy a language and culture.
At Trinity Grammar School, our students are given opportunities to participate in international tours whether it be to understand homelessness in a global context, participate in sporting tours, perform in renowned cathedrals and concert halls, or practice a foreign language. Apart from providing all the benefits of cultural immersion, international tours may also include elements of a charitable nature.
We have guided boys to grow in mind, body and spirit for over a century and we know what boys need to truly flourish and succeed. To learn more about Trinity’s diverse education offering, and to discover the Trinity difference, register for our upcoming Open Day.