Rebecca Racine Waterman:
Reflection: It has been amazing to spend four weeks in Hangzhou at HangGao. HangGao is quite different than Dover Sherborn High School - there are many more students here, the campus is larger, and, of course, the school is in the center of a city. The students and faculty at HangGao welcomed us warmly and they have taught us so much. We took classes in cooking, painting, Chinese language, and Chinese culture. It is difficult to choose my favorite lessons, but I really enjoyed learning to write calligraphy cooking with Chef Wong, and painting bamboo, pandas, and fish. During these four weeks, I had the opportunity to teach the Senior 1 classes, and my students also visited the classes to talk about their lives in America. Many students were curious about life in America and it was wonderful to talk with them about their lives in China. They taught me a lot about the Chinese education system, and I enjoyed learning about their goals for the future. We all found many topics to discuss and we laughed a lot in our conversations. I am also incredibly grateful to the three host families for giving me and my students such an amazing opportunities to visit many important sites in this region- Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) was my favorite, but I also loved picking longjing tea leaves on a mountain in Hangzhou. This exchange program has been such a wonderful and unique travel experience for me and for me students, and I hope that the rich friendship between HangGao High School and Dover Sherborn High School will continue for many more years to come!
Iona Yuan Stephen:
I want to start out by thanking everyone for making this year’s exchange a successful and memorable one. I am extremely grateful for the students who shared their lives with us, for the faculty who took the time to show us around, for the host families who supported their child’s exploration of another culture, and for all those who were involved in the exchange. As you may know, half of my heritage comes from China, and so my family and I have visited this country upwards of ten times throughout my eighteen years. However, I have come to realise that there is only so much you can learn on a family vacation to China. It is only when you actually live with another family, take part in their daily lives, meet other students, and interview their teachers that you will begin to understand the youth of China. It takes more than just travelling here, it takes cooperation on both sides. My exchange group is so blessed to have met kids that have opened up their hearts and shared with us what being a student in Hanggao is like. We are so thankful to have been placed in the hands of such caring and responsive faculty that have made our days at the school informative and enjoyable. We are thankful to have been given a structure to our day whilst still having the freedom to further explore the things we were curious about. I have been greatly impacted by this trip, and will continue to be fascinated by the Chinese culture and language in my future. We are all heading off to college in a few month's time, and we will absolutely bring with us the grace and courage that this trip has taught us. We have greatly developed our social skills as it truly is something that is learnt through meeting new students and making conversation in order to find common ground. In college, we will be better equipped to interact with other students and make friends. We also have learned how to adapt to new living situations outside of the homes we are used to. Travelling for four weeks before living with a host family has taught us how to live without our families, and then without one another. A huge part of our experience is owed to our host families who had the courage to believe in their child enough to send them to America first. These are the adults that we have had the privilege of living with. It takes cooperation, and we are so thankful that you all have given so much, it is our pleasure to share our culture and heritage with you all in return.
Elizabeth Anne Newport:
I was at first really nervous about coming to China and going to school here. But in the end I am so happy I came. I loved hanging out with my host sister, Li Han and her classmates. I am really thankful for this experience, I have learned so much about Chinese culture. I loved the cooking, handwork and the Chinese class. More importantly I have learned so much myself and have grown so much as a person. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.