Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


April 11, 2013

Students to spend spring vacation in China

While many Andover families may travel for April vacation next week, one group of high school students will visit to the other side of the globe.

Around a dozen students will spend their week at the Hengshui School in China’s Hebei’s province next week, where they will sit in on Chinese classes, visit landmarks and even perform in a music festival.

The trip is made possible through a $11,000 grant from the Asia Society’s Confucius Classrooms program. Each student had to pay $2,200 to attend the trip, and no additional cost was borne by the school district, according to Jorge Allain, world language program advisor.

Andover High School Principal Chris Lord said the trip is “a great opportunity for the kids to learn about a culture they have read about and studied.”

For district Superintendent Marinel McGrath, the effect on each student extends far beyond being able to apply classroom lessons.

“You can never know how much it will impact their awareness, the opportunity to have a different perspective, to build a greater understanding, greater tolerance,” she said.

Many of the students agreed.

“Learning Chinese is one thing in a classroom. Going over there is a completely different thing,” student Ali Hale said. “There is nothing like going and getting hands-on and seeing it for yourself.”

The students will stay on the Hengshui School’s campus for most of the trip, according to Chinese teacher Mei Lynn. At one point, they’ll break off and visit landmarks like the Great Wall of China and Forbidden City.

However, not all of the students going over know how to speak Chinese. Some are going for the trip’s extra-curricular value.

“Once I heard about this opportunity, I wanted to go to learn about the education system or to learn about the culture,” student Hugh Smith said.

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