by Jasper Johnston, Grade 10
This March break, I get the amazing opportunity to travel with two other Senior School students, Oria James and Emily Jordon, to China for three weeks on exchange. This opportunity arose as a result of our taking Mandarin classes at the school. I personally have been learning Mandarin since Grade 6 and have developed a deep passion for it.
Our first half of the trip will be spent at a school in Zhengzhou, where we will not only experience the Chinese culture and classes, but also visit the legendary Shaolin temple — considered the birthplace of Kung Fu. I am personally excited to visit Zhengzhou, as I have two pen pals who attend the school we will visit. Connected by our teachers, I have been in correspondence with them for the past year and never dreamed that I could actually meet them in real life.
For the second half of the trip, we will travel by bullet train to the largest (by population) city in the world. Shanghai has approximately 18 million residents and was recently deemed to have the highest academically achieving students in the world. It will be very interesting to experience these classes and see how and what students learn in China.
There are many reasons why the exchange will be life changing, but the opportunity to be immersed in the Chinese language and culture and the chance to gain understanding for those in an environment where they do not speak my native tongue is incredible. There is no better way to learn a language quickly than to be in a situation where I can speak, live and breathe it. It will be an amazing experience and I am very excited for it!
Interested in participating in our student exchange program? Learn about upcoming opportunities for the 2014-2015 school year at our information session on February 20 where you can ask past participants about their experiences.