This past week has seen us reacquaint with the familiarities and surroundings of the Utahloy International School, our ‘home base’ for the past weeks, so to speak. We have continued to be busy with a range of activities and experiences each day whilst working hard on continuing with our Mandarin language classes.
These have included:
Hand Painting - we had a hand painting artist come in and demonstrate how to paint amazing pictures with just your hands, using the base of your fist or the tip and nail of your finger. Students all had a go at a bamboo drawing and rock and waterfalls. The pictures are a great souvenir and memory for students to take home with them.
New Zengcheng – students had a look through the newer shopping malls in the local town to get an idea of how globalisation is influencing China. These modern developments looked like Highpoint shopping centre or Chadstone.
Community Service – it was great to see students working hard and giving back to the local community just outside our school. They helped concrete the roads to the Lychee farms. With the deluge of rain that occurs here, the dirt roads become extremely muddy very quickly and it is sometimes impossible to bring in their harvest. So by concreting the road it makes it a lot safer and more productive. It was quite a unique way to mix concrete. Essentially they just put all the dry ingredients on the road, add water and stir, then flatten it out. This seemed to work well.
Cooking Dumplings – Yum! Students went to a wet market in the morning to purchase the raw ingredients for their dumplings they made in the afternoon. Ting Drechsler, one of our Mandarin teachers taught students how to fill then fold the dumplings into different shapes. The taste testing was very rewarding.
Egg Drop – Some creativity was needed to protect their egg that would be dropped from the height of the fourth floor. Students worked in pairs to make their egg capsule. There were only 3 eggs that survived after the drop.
Orienteering – students braved the warm weather to find the various clues around the school. This was great to see everyone pushing themselves to run most of the course.
Bargaining Bonanza – The whole community went into the markets of Old Zengcheng. Students were given four purchase tasks to focus on and 50 Yuan as a group. They had to purchase an item to take back to give their school, an item that represents their school team, an item interesting to eat and something practical to leave behind for the boarders at Utahloy. Mandarin language was to be used when bargaining and a lovely dinner at a local restaurant followed in the Gualu Mall.
Clan House and Museum – We all ventured into Guangzhou to visit the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall. This building is an important heritage site with many artefacts inside. Guangzhou museum is a unique block style building in the modern end of town. Being a public holiday in China, it was busy inside but educational nonetheless.
Kung Fu – Students learnt a routine from two Kung Fu masters who ran through a sequence of various moves with them. One was with fists and the other with nunchakus. Everyone enjoyed this.
Mandarin – Students have a lot on learning expectations at present, with Mandarin being one of the key focuses. Their written and oral exams are coming up early next week; hence some solid study is being done.
Projects – Students are also busy working on their cultural focused projects with presentations being held next Friday. As part of this we have asked each student to present their key individual learning and a cultural learning from their time away. I am sure you will be asking your son or daughter about this, and hopefully seeing and experiencing evidence of their growth over the past nine weeks.
~ REINTEGRATION ~
We are discussing ways of reintegration with the students either back into home, school or their community. Students have been asked to record strategies that will help them settle back in.
Some of the potential issues we can perhaps pre-empt may include wanting more freedom when they get home, to go out, be with friends, travel. It may be in how they express and dress themselves or do their hair. It may also be in wanting to be more involved in the management of their independent lives at home. They may have a new, distant (or nearby) girl or boyfriend they want you to meet, and have all the teenage clumsiness about relating to them and show in introducing you to them. They may be concerned about returning to normal school life and the confines of periods and bells, and fall into a period of disengagement or unhappiness. It may be worth talking these through at home or you may have done this on email BEFORE he or she returns. Ask them how they may be different and what you can do at home to make the coming home easier and better. Ask them to show you their journal, VYLC Portfolio and photos, then to explain them. It may be that the email “relationship” between parents and sons/daughters being maintained even after they have returned home – it is just another perhaps easier way to communicate. Moreover, remind them of their responsibilities to you, their family and school, and they will be expected to attend school in the week following their return on Saturday.
Set some boundaries prior to the homecoming. The last thing most families will want is to billet 20 Alpine School and China graduates over the school holidays, (although one or two might be terrific)! They may find the structures of their home school constraining, and yet they may love the security it also brings. They will have to reacquaint themselves with their friends who did not come to the Alpine School or China, and who may feel abandoned. As a family, it may be that your “house-man or woman” has returned, and those jobs which had been shared around could be redistributed. The favourite mum’s home cooked meal, the lasagne or roast, which has been so missed, may be not quite what was required and it may be impossible for them to actually identify what really is “missing” or “wrong”. For the little brother or sister, their competitor for your attention is just about to arrive back on the scene! And ‘arrive’ they will! But I wonder how easily your son/daughter will fall back into those roles? For some very easily, I am sure. It may be hard for others.
From experience in talking to past students, doing something routine on the Sunday after their return helps. Try to avoid allowing them to lock themselves in their room on their own for long periods of time, especially straight after they return home, for they have become accustomed to having forty-two other like-minded adolescents around them sharing experiences together. Make note that all students reintegrate in different ways and this may take time for some, yet be more immediate for others.
No doubt, they will be emotionally welcomed and supported by you as they arrive back home.
Our flight is CZ321, due to arrive at 8.40am on Saturday 18th June. It may take some time to clear customs, so it could be close to 10.00am before we walk through the doors.
The final busy week ahead is looming.
Russell Shem - Campus Principal