A Visit to Our Sister School in China
Mr Stewart from Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School recently visted Shanghai, here is his account of that trip:
Shanghai is a city of 22 million people, a city that never stops building, a city described as 'New York on steroids.' It was also host to the 2010 World Expo.
In an unprepossessing but very Chinese street called ChongDe Lu, (next to Dongtai Lu antiques market), lies our sister school in Shanghai, Bile High School.
I first visited Bile in 2009 to link the school with Cardinal Heenan. There has been regular correspondence between our students and theirs ever since. Our current students in contact with Bile are now in Year 9 and near the end of their second year learning Mandarin.
I have visited Bile on several occasions with Liverpool City's representatives at the Shanghai World Expo, (at which Liverpool had the only pavilion of any UK City). Liverpool has been twinned with Shanghai since 1999.
I was recently thrilled to be invited by Bile, not just to visit the school, but to work and teach there from 13 to 21 June 2013.
I arrived in Shanghai on 11 June during the Chinese 'Dragon Boat' festival and was treated to dragon boat races on the Suzhou River, a tributary of the Huangpu River, on which the city lies. Shanghai in English means 'above the sea or on the sea.'
My hosts could not have been more welcoming and I am in the fortunate position of being called 'friend' by my colleagues at Bile. When a Chinese person calls you friend, the friendship lasts forever.
I had my own form, a lovely group of our equivalent year 9 and I taught English to receptive and enthusiastic students. The Chinese methodology of teaching is, by comparison to ours, quite traditional with teacher - led lessons and rote learning (yes, Mr Gove I know you have been to Shanghai!). However the educational buzz-word in Shanghai these days is 'creativity.' The Chinese teachers were keen to see a different style of teaching. I spent many a happy hour talking with my Chinese colleagues about education practice and teaching methodology. Bile would welcome visits by our students and staff and I hope to offer them an opportunity to visit Shanghai next year.
I also spent a day at another school in a different district of Shanghai, Weiyu High School, where I was asked to give lectures to their senior students on aspects of life in the UK. The Chinese of all ages are genuinely fascinated by our country. Many aspire to send their children to be educated here (yes Mr Gove, you've got it the wrong way around)!
Finally I made the trip to a smaller city, Suzhou, by fast train which travels at 380 kilometres per hour. It is half an hour by train from Shanghai and has a campus of Liverpool University in the extensive grounds of Xi'an Jiao Tong University. Along with another city in China Huangzhou, Suzhou is regarded as paradise on earth by the Chinese and indeed the old city is truly beautiful.
I was taken to visit another school, Soochow University School and was very impressed by the Staff, students and facilities. The Chinese realise the value of education. It is hugely important in the Chinese Psyche, along with health. A bonus was that I have been asked to return as visiting lecturer to give talks in the future at the University on Marketing.
I was quite sad when the time came for me to leave Shanghai, even though the weather had been 39 degrees and very humid! I have many Chinese friends now in Shanghai and always feel sad to leave them. One thing is certain. I will be returning to Shanghai and Bile High School.
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