Jericho Students Visit China
By LAUREN DOLOWICH
For the first time this year, Jericho High School pioneered a student exchange program with a school in China. Jericho Chinese teacher Ms. April Song and World Languages Curriculum Associate Dr. Elaine Margarita co-founded and coordinated the program. For nine days in October, twelve Jericho students were housed with their assigned Chinese exchange students. Likewise, for nine days in February, the Chinese students from Xi’an High School stayed with their exchange students in New York.
Dr. Margarita visited Xi’an High School in November 2012 to set up the exchange program. After she came back, the exchange program was planned and implemented between the two schools. The program was approved by the Board of Education, and was part of a grant the district received from the Confucius Classroom Network and the Asia Society. The students were only required to pay for the airfare to and from China.
After spending two days in Beijing and seven days in Xi’an, the JHS students arrived back in New York after a thirteen-hour flight.
Ever since third grade, sophomore participant Marissa Shapiro had dreamed of visiting China, and was, unsurprisingly, immediately attracted to the opportunity. “It was so cool and different seeing people from all over the world, all together in one place,” Shapiro said. She commented that climbing the Great Wall of China in Beijing was her favorite part of the trip.
Ms. Song said that one of her favorite parts of their visit to China was seeing how discipline and unity are emphasized in China’s education system. She added that, “It was amazing to see our students using so much Chinese throughout the trip.”
When reflecting on her overall experience with the program, Dr. Margarita said that the it was incredibly enriching and informative. “We feel strongly that this is a deep and meaningful way of learning about another culture, another language, and forging positive relationships between two schools,” she said.
Senior participant Elexa Salina has visited China three times, her third wtih this program. Salina said that visiting with her peers from school was “a once in a lifetime experience.” Salina is confident that all of her fellow students were grateful to be a part of the program.
Overall, the trip was a success. “Our students have increased their skills and motivation in learning Chinese, and they returned with new friends they will have for a lifetime,” said Dr. Margarita.