Each summer, Wesley middle school students have the opportunity to travel to China to deepen and build on the Mandarin instruction they’ve been receiving daily since kindergarten. Students are immersed in the culture, food, and language for several weeks and have the opportunity to visit cultural sites, study Mandarin through our partnership with Nanjing University, and meet with their student peers abroad. Eighth grader Justin Harrison shares about his experience in China.
This year I was able to go to China and study at Nanjing University with some of my classmates. It was a great experience for me because I was able to meet new people, learn new things, and get exposed to a different culture. It was a life-changing experience. There are many things I can share about my travels, but let me share with you my top 10 favorite things:
1. Traveling: We traveled to Beijing and visited the Great Wall of China. I liked learning about the history and got a lot of exercise because I walked up more than 800 flights of stairs! We also traveled to Hong Kong and Maccow where we went to an amusement park. It was better than Disney to me.
2. Being independent: I had to wash my own clothes, work with my roommate to keep our rooms clean, and wake up on my own. I felt like a college student.
3. The food: The food was excellent! I was able to eat at McDonald’s and KFC. However, the taste of the food for me was different versus America. Mr. Chung had us try a variety of foods while there. My favorite was beef dumplings. Yum!
4. Speaking Chinese: We spoke Mandarin all day every day. Being immersed really helped me with my speaking and writing skills. I was also able to take calligraphy classes.
5. Playtime: We went to the gym, played basketball, played kickball, and learned karate. We were able to interact and play with some of the students from the university. One thing that was different from the US was the basketball court. It was circular and on the track, the lanes were smaller and more people could run.
6. Shopping: Things were half the price! I was able to bring home a lot of gifts for my family. I was able to buy my mother and grandmother a jade elephant and earrings.
7. Skyping with my parents: Every week I was able to speak to my family about the things I was doing. I was also able to get an update on what was happening at home. It was good to see their faces.
8. The people: The people in China were very friendly. At times they would come up and want to touch your hair or take pictures with me. I thought that was great.
9. Transportation: We rode on planes, trains, and buses! The plane ride took us 15 hours to fly to China. I was able to talk to my friend, play games, and watch a lot of movies. We also took the bullet train and a sleeping train. I never knew trains could go that fast!
10. Visited local school: We visited a kindergarten class, where they spoke and sung to us in Chinese. We listened and spoke to them in English and Chinese. It was a wonderful experience.
I had a great summer, and it would not have been possible without Mr. Chung, Ms. Streeter, and Ms. Swain. They were great chaperones. They kept us safe but also made the experience fun. Thank you, Wesley!
Justin Harrison is a current 8th grader at Wesley International Academy.