An Early Start, a Relaxing Afternoon and an Exhilerating Evening

Well a week ago today we set out from Jack Hunt to Shanghai, I am not sure where the time has gone, we have managed to pack in so much, and today has been no different!

We woke the students up at 6 am, they have been complaining that they are spending too much time asleep, so we are doing our best to accommodate!

We headed down to breakfast, a hot (warm!)  egg, sticky tofu and a  bread / herb / walnut-whip shaped something! Tasty but unsure what to call it!

The early start was due to it being Monday and the flag raising ceremony. This is a  very formal event that happens each Monday when the school and Chinese flags are marched out in front of the school and ceremonially raised in front of all staff and students as the school anthem and National anthem is played. Again, as in the past years, we have been guests of honour at this ceremony. Speeches were given to welcome us and reflect on the close cooperation between jack Hunt School and the Gold Apple School. The partnership has been in place for 8 years and we have been running exchanges for 6 years now. The school opened in 2000, so the significance of the link to the school is very high. Mr Barwise thanked the school for accommodating us and looking after us so well, also thanking students and families who looked after the students so well on homestay. James and Omar, being on their second year of the exchange, had the honour of raising the Union Flag. This is done along to the National Anthem, somewhat challenging to time, as the version that the Gold Apple School has is a choral one that runs to 4 verses. However timing was perfect and the flag reached the pole at the end of the first verse.  Similarly, as it was Will’s second visit he was charged with giving the vote of thanks on behalf of the students, what was very impressive was that he gave this very confidently and fluently in Mandarin. As it seemed a bit boy heavy Milly stepped up to give the vote of thanks then in English. It was a real honour to be part of this and an impressive sight to see, however the primary students were all on a school trip so the numbers were somewhat depleted.

After the flag raising ceremony we headed to the international department for lessons.  We attended a variety of lessons, chemistry, economics and English. The classes that we were in are all studying the Cambridge International GCSE examinations, something that Jack Hunt School helped to set up for the Gold Apple School. What impressed our students is that the lessons are all delivered in English and examined in English, the level of fluency amongst the Chinese students is impressive. Perhaps the highlight of the lessons was an English lesson delivered by Linda(a teacher from Texas) she only had a short amount of notice that we were coming (3 minutes to be precise) but was happy to accommodate 10 additional students! After an initial listening comprehension test students introduced themselves and considered difference between their countries. When asked how long our school day was  one of our students noted that it was around 6 hours, this led the Chinese students to fall about laughing… their school day is between 12 – 13 hours long! I think that we could have recruited a large number of students to join Jack Hunt School! The Chinese students do work very hard and there is a real emphasis on additional independent learning out of lesson times. Many of the students in the international department are looking to study overseas, many look at America as a first choice, but it is great to hear from students who have been to Jack Hunt in the past that they are looking at the UK. Andrew who came 2 years ago is applying to Southampton next year.

After the lessons we spent some time planning for tomorrow, we have a big day ahead as we are teaching at Pu Xing, the migrant workers school. This is one of the most rewarding parts of the trip, also challenging as the students there do not speak English and classes will be large, 40 -45 students. However we are well prepared and have plans in place and dodgeballs at the ready.

Lunch followed and then sightseeing….

We met with our tour guide Alex again and made the short journey down town to the Pu Xi side of the river. Here we meandered through Yuyuan Gardens spending nearly 2 hours wandering, sitting and looking at the various picturesque lakes, stones, garden houses and zig zag bridges. The gardens represent what life may have been like out in the countryside many, many years ago. The idea behind the zig zag bridges are so that bad spirits cannot chase you around corners. We were not sure how the students would feel about the gardens but they seemed to really enjoy the mellow atmosphere that they created. As with all great tourist attractions comes the tourist shops that surround them. The students had half an hour to try out some more bartering skills and pick up some more waving cats, chop sticks and various other gifts. Tea this evening was traditional Chinese fast food, various noodles, dumplings, chicken wings, soups, rice’s and vegetables.

From here we headed over to the ERA Circus act, on the way one student commented ‘Sir, I don’t like clowns, will there be any clowns there?’. Now the circus is not the normal type of circus we have in the UK! The ERA, Intersection of Time act is like nothing else! Displays of strength and flexibility, amazing trampolining on a plank of wood, juggling with huge plant pots, men running around the outside of a Ferris wheel and the grand finale is 8 motorbikes careering around a metal sphere, I’m sure the students will tell you more about it!

Tomorrow is a full day of teaching and leadership for the students. In the morning we head over to the migrant worker school to teach dodgeball and English, we then return to the Gold Apple School to lead 90 children through a multi-skills sports festival.