We set off from Boston International School on the Tuesday Morning, 3 teachers and 33, Grade six students, it was to be 4 days and 3 nights in magnificent Moganshan. For those who do not know Mount Mogan is located 60 km northwest of Hangzhou, or 200 km west of Shanghai in Deqing County, Zhejiang and is part of the larger Tianmu mountain range. It is famous as a summer escape and for its pristine bamboo forests.
As we prepared to leave the students were excited you could feel it in the air as the parents were gathering around to see their children off, with hugs and kisses a plenty they said their goodbyes. For some of the children it would be the first time they have been away from their parents, but it was hard to tell, was it the parents or the children who were more distressed? We set off on the down road excited and ready for adventure, these young people are off to try many things and for some it would be for the first time. They would becamping, climbing ropes and obstacle courses, hiking through bamboo forests, riding bikes through mountain passes, and most of all learning about teamwork and themselves.
Over the 4 days, these young people were able to have a broad range of outdoor experiences which encouraged them to grow through cooperation, teamwork and positive leadership under the safe and watchful eye of the experienced, trained Keystone guides. While the program is designed to be accessible to participants who have no previous experience, is was also intended to be challenging. The students pushed themselves physically and emotionally in order to overcome several challenges. In achieving success, they gain personal confidence and self-esteem and become open to wider opportunities and life chances, which they are then able to carry on into other parts of their lives.
The students received a very high level of personal support and attention, and it was amazing to see how quickly the group bonded. By the conclusion of the trip, students would return home having experienced personal growth with a much better understanding of themselves. They will have gained self-confidence and self-reliance as well as vastly enhanced leadership and teamwork skills.
I really enjoyed how the students learnt a variety new safe outdoor skills through exposure to a wide range of outdoor activities and environments including hiking, bike riding and other general skills such as trip planning, navigation, all within an environment which is safe and non-competitive.
Personally, I had a great time at Moganshan, but my time was made so much better getting to know each one of these young children on a personal level and watching them grow and develop as they were challenged by different events. The caring and teamwork they showed toward one another made me proud to be part of their education and learning asglobally minded citizens through Boston International School. Thank you parents for letting me share this wonderful experience with your children.
Grades 8 and 9 students spent an unforgettable week on a trip in one of the most uniquely beautiful places in China – Yangshuo.
The five-day journey was so eventful: rafting, cycling, climbing, kayaking, jumping in a mud bath in a cave, community and servise activity, cooking traditional Chinese dishes, quest, barbecue and camping – all these interesting activities gave our children a lot of new skills, abilities, knowledge and understandings.
A highly professional team of guides provided this trip with an excellent management, historical and psychological overtones.
Students spent the first day learning about the history of Japanese colonial rule in Korea, the Nanjing Massacre, and the Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai. The purpose of these lessons was to contextualize the museums so that the students would be able to appreciate the gravity and significance of the artifacts, stories, and graves in the museums that they would visit. Students then began to write a reflection about what they learned and what they hoped to find out on the trip.
On the second day, students visited the 1937 Nanjing Massacre Museum. It was an incredibly emotional event, as the graphic realities of the crimes committed, hit the students and teachers in the heart. The museum contained an enormous quantity of evidence for the massacre and included many videos of witnesses including those who worked at the Nanjing Safety Zone. The Nanjing Safety Zone saved the lives of over 250,000 civilians who took shelter amongst the slaughter.
On the third day, students visited the Jewish Refugees Museum and Korean Provisional Government Museum. These museums were much smaller than the one in Nanjing, but what was special about them is that they were the real buildings that housed Jewish Refugees and the Korean Provisional Government. Being crammed in such a small space allowed students to empathize with how tightly packed people were in these buildings as they fled persecution from their homelands. These museums embodied a message of hope: that even in such dark times, there were people willing to open their doors and shelter those who held stigmatized social identities. These were people willing to risk their lives to care for strangers from a distant land.
On the final day, students completed their reflections and began to work on an informative memorial piece displayed on the third floor of building D. Some of the students created an art work dedicated to those who had lost their lives during the Second World War. Other students collaborated to create informative panels that explained the significance of these museums in English, Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese.
Overall Week this Without Walls was more than simply visiting historical sites, it was about empathy and paying respects to those who fought for the privileges in which we inherit today.
In our group, on the first day students learned history during World War II. On Wednesday we visited Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing and on Thursday we were at Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum and Museum of Korean Provisional Government Site to learn in depth about the history.
In every museum, everyone was silently and seriously focusing on reading the explanations with respect towards the victims.
Students came from different backgrounds discussing what happened during the war but talking from different aspects and values but trying to be good leaders of the future. Some shared how they felt and how they can contribute to make this world better place as IB student in the future.
The Grade 7 trip to Lin’an started off well with 31 students eager and excited to learn outside of the traditional classroom. We began with a nearly 4 hour bus ride from Wuxi to Lin’an. The students did surprisingly well on the long bus ride.
When we arrived in Lin’an, the Keystone Guides greeted us with a terrific lunch and separated the students into teams for outdoor team building exercises. This prepared the students for building their rafts. They learned how to tie specific knots for building and worked well together to create the rafts. The best part was watching the students try to float on the rafts and see if they were stable enough to float! Some were successful and some were not.
After Raft building, the students set up their tents for the evening. Dinner was cooked by the students themselves in outdoor stoves. Students even cleaned up their own dishes! For many of the students, the cooking of the dinner meal was a highlight of the trip.
The evening of the first day was spent debriefing the experiences of the day around a warm fire with s-mores snacks (roasted marshmallow’s, biscuits and chocolate)!
The student had the pleasure of waking up to the crisp cool mountain air the next morning. For may the previous night was the first time that they had ever slept outdoors in a tent. While some enjoyed it, it was a challenge for others to be comfortable outside of their home environments. We were proud of all of them for persevering through the camping experience.
Breakfast was served and the students all had the opportunity to learn about wilderness first aid techniques. After the morning activity, the students took down the tents and headed to the bus for Lunch and the next adventure.
Bicycling around a beautiful lake was the next adventure. Most of the students had the skill to join, but the ones who did not had to opportunity to learn bicycle skills in a safe environment. The bicycle ride was fabulous! The weather was cool, the sun was shining, and the path was picturesque. It was a long ride that was enjoyed by all!
After the bike ride, we were all taken to the hotel to have a brief rest before dinner. After dinner, the students gathered for games and activities before bedtime. Everyone was excited to have a comfortable bed to rest after a long and tiresome day.
Today we all woke up early to a great hotel breakfast prepared to have another adventurous day rock climbing and making local Chinese snacks.
We made our way to a village that was being renovated for the rock climbing community. The village of Longshan was a small mountain village with Lions Head Rock towering above. Rock climbing was a challenge in many ways for all students involved. The hike to the climbing site was steep and rewarding with good viewing rest spots along the way. The students were given an introduction of the gear and safety briefing by the Keystone Guides and set off to explore rock climbing and abseiling. They all finished the event with tired bodies, enhanced team work and a better understanding and respect for nature. Some of the students even showed their environmental stewardship by cleaning up trash on the trail!!
The snack making activity was a great way for many of the students to see and understanda more historical way of making food. The process that was shown and shared with the students was an ancient technique of grinding the rice to make a sticky snack. Yummy….it was enjoyed by all!
Again, back to the hotel for rest and dinner at the hotel. The evening activity was a fun game of charades and talent show.
The final day consisted of an early rise and breakfast to check out of the hotel. We went to a museum for a local handicraft activity. We had fun creating pictures from died wheat onto fans. This was a great way to create a local souvenir to take home on the final day.
First of all, the three guides we had were great. Everything was very well organized. The activities were fun and varied and gave everyone a chance to participate.
Not only were the places and events interesting and a lot of fun (Amazing Race, Chengdu opera, tea picking, art activities, pandas, Shangli ancient town, hike, bike riding, hot springs), the students also had great opportunities to express themselves (talent contest, debates, reflections).
Having no technology was great as it gave the students the opportunity to talk and play games with each other during the bus trips and free-time.
Special thanks to all chaperons! All photos above credit to them.