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2012 GCS Trip to China

Two Weeks In China For Germantown Students and Teachers

    Susan Raab and Karol Harlow of the Germantown Central School, along with four High School students recently returned from Zheng Zhou, China.
The intent of this trip was one of international friendship and cultural education.  They visited the #14 Middle/High School and were hosted by Chinese families.  The trip resulted from the previous visit of a teacher from school #14, Ms. Yujuan Shi, who stayed here for a year several years ago. Ms. Shi was hosted by Mrs. Dotti Griffin and Karol Harlow, where she experienced American life.
    Last year, Ms. Shi and her Principal, Mr. Yuan, brought many students to Germantown for two weeks where they forged a bond of friendship, respect and desire for educational

                At the Great Wall of China!                  

 exchange. This year, we were invited to #14 for two weeks.
    The first three days were spent in Beijing, with trips to the Forbidden City, The Great Wall, and Mao Tomb.  On day four we embarked on a nine-hour train to Henan Province where we were greeted by our hosts to begin a memorable visit. The delegation of Chinese host families and administrators accepted us into their lives with generosity, kindness and curiosity.
    Our students participated in classes, such as Chinese cultural lessons, Chinese language lessons, and Kung Fu.
Each day began at 7:00am, with a two hour lunch break, and ended at around 7:00pm. The classrooms had from 60 to 70 students. Each classroom was sparse and unheated. This is quite a contrast to our American way of life, but we bundled up for the duration.
    I can honestly say most of these Chinese students were excited to engage in conversation and questions about American way of life.  The first question, I came soon to find out, was:  "Do you like Chinese food?"  Most other questions were typical teenage curiosities like music and movie preferences.  Our Germantown students were treated like celebrities the entire time.
    An unusual aspect of their daily life was that the Chinese students and our delegation were treated to the most amazing lunches, sampling a different local fare each day. For variety and cultural exposure we were taken to many important landmarks, such as the mouth of the Yellow River, where Mao designated its importance and the birthplace of civilization. We also visited the Henan Museum, tastefully and thoughtfully representing the best of Henan Province Artifacts from 5,000 years ago.
We also visited the Shao Lin Temple, which is the birthplace of Kung Fu. There are over 3,000 Kung Fu students from age 5-19 studying this ancient martial art.
    Thanks to the support of GSEF and the willingness of the Germantown Administration, our High School students were able to acquire a perspective of Chinese every day life.
    They absorbed each and every moment with eagerness, they formed new friendships across the globe, and changed their lives forever.