Thirteen Year 10 students from The Weald School have just returned from an unforgettable experience as they took part in the school’s sixth cultural exchange programme to China.
The Weald School has had a partnership with the Luoyang Leading Edge, No 2 Secondary School in the Xigong district of Henan Province in China, over the past six years.
The visit, once again, was a resounding success. Students were really immersed in a different culture as they became members of an extended family, living in tower blocks up to 32 floors high, and taking in the breath-taking sights that China has to offer.
Both the Chinese and British students attended school during the week, and some of the Chinese students accompanied The Weald students on the excursions.
Students took part awe inspiring trips such as The Shaolin Temple, which is where Kung Fu was started, Ancient Luoyang, which was a capital of China before Xi’an, and the Longmen grottoes.
Here there are in excess of 100,000 Buddha’s carved into a 1 km stretch on the banks of the river Yi. There is there a large Buddha statue surrounded by six others.
The face of the Buddha is based up on an Empress of China whose husband wanted her immortalised. These Buddha’s were carved some 2500 years ago and so far he has achieved his aim.
One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Longtan Valley to see the pandas.
The excitement was tempered by the reality of the conditions in which the pandas were being kept, a small enclosure for two animals.
We hope that by being able to discuss these things with young people that the Chinese may come to understand how we view zoos and also it allowed our students to understand the Chinese viewpoints.
After Luoyang the students travelled by bullet train to Xi’an, the home of the Terracotta Warriors, taking a 14km bike ride around the walls of Xi’an, and the next day travelled by bullet train to Beijing to visit The Great Wall and the Forbidden City.
Janet Playford, Director of Maths at The Weald who accompanied the trip commented: “So many of our students said that their overriding memories of China were spending time with the Chinese students and their families.
“The sights we visited will stay with us all long after our return to England. Many of our students are still in touch using ‘wechat’, and for some we hope everlasting bonds of friendship, and a return to this fascinating country”.
Last year we had Chinese visitors for the first time at The Weald.
It was really wonderful to spend more time with those who visited last year and to deepen those friendships.
We really hope that we will be able to welcome more Chinese Students to our school in July this year.
It is an unforgettable experience for us to visit them and them to be able to visit us.
I really hope that this partnership and international friendship will continue for the benefit of all those taking part.