Learning Beyond Borders

Last January 25-29, 2019, thirteen Grade 5 pupils and three Grade 6 pupils participated in the 2nd China Study Tour, sponsored by the Chinese Language Program under the Grade School Department. The group visited Beijing, China, where our young Lasallians interacted with 21 Chinese students from the Royal’s English Training Center (RETC) based in the Changle District, Fujian Province, China. It was a memorable, enjoyable, one-of-a-kind experience for the pupils — a truly special learning journey beyond the four walls of the classroom!

Together with two adult leaders, Mrs. Agnes Medenilla, GS Reading and Mandarin Coordinator, and Miss Maria Johanna Batolos, CENTRO Researcher and Liaison for the Chinese Language Program, the study tour group, also accompanied by ten parents/guardian and four adult leaders from RETC, braved the winter cold to enjoy learning and interactive activities with their student-counterparts through group games, communication exercises, special performances, and culture activities such as museum visits, calligraphy, dumpling-making, eating Beijing snack food and watching the Beijing opera and magic show.

Through these activities, the pupils were given the opportunity to practice speaking in Mandarin to their student-partners as well as helping their counterparts learn to speak English better. Our young Lasallians experienced Chinese culture first-hand as they interacted with other Chinese students throughout all the activities. In those five days, the group got to see famous sites such as the Great Wall of China, the Beijing Olympic Stadium or  “Bird’s Nest,” Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. They experienced local activities like ice skating at the Shichahai Ice Rink and visited the China Science and Technology Museum and tasted Chinese cuisine at restaurants such as the Beijing Jin Shou Shao and Beijing Fu Wang and ate traditional Chinese treats at the largest snack shop in China, Beijing Wanfeng Xiao Chicheng. Through the assigned small groupings and simple farewell activity, where the students gave tokens to their new-found friends, both student groups discovered similarities and differences between the two cultures and country, and the people as a whole.

Out of the 16 pupils, six travelled without a parent-companion, giving these pupils the opportunity to practice independence and show responsibility in caring for their personal belongings and themselves, proving that Lasallians are courageous, capable and truly commendable. For the parents who travelled with their sons, they witnessed first-hand how it was to see their children interact with foreigner-peers, how they handled themselves confidently abroad that all made for a memorable bonding moment for shared-experiences between parent and son.

The Study Tour is touted as an opportunity of a lifetime for our young Lasallians – from travelling to a different country, to learning more about China and the Chinese way of life, practicing what they learned inside the classroom to real-life experiences – indeed a remarkable actualization of ‘learning beyond borders.’

Article and Photos by Miss Maria Johanna Batolos