The following was part of a recent announcement to the London DCSB community:
I along with Principal Fernandes have returned from an experience that has had no match in my 31 years in education. Through We Are Young II, East has met West. We Are Young is in its second season and is produced for CCTV2, part of the CCTV Group which is China’s largest broadcaster. The focus of the series is to promote cross-cultural understanding, personal growth, and experiencing life in a whole new way. Five Grade 11 students from Mother Teresa swapped countries, schools and lives with students from China for the popular reality TV series.
It was with great pride that I along with Ana, Aaron, Christina, Emmanuel, Diana and Natalia represented Canada, the London DCSB and Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School. The experience of We Are Young has literally through our students brought two cultures together. If you haven’t already check out some of what we have experienced.
While our five students exchanged lives with five Chinese students Ana and I were busy establishing three sister school educational partnerships (a fourth is in the works). These partnerships will see our schools working collaboratively to promote excellence and innovation in the teaching of all areas of the curriculum as we promote educational and cultural ties between students and staff. These partnerships will promote activities such as:
- Joint student learning projects
- Sharing of curriculum to improve educational outcomes
- Collaborative research and the exchange of research in particular in the area of mathematics
In addition, Chinese students will have the opportunity to study in Canada and complete their high school education and support their transition to the post-secondary institution of their choice in Ontario. We are fortunate to have a special relationship with Brescia, King’s and Fanshawe. As early as this July we will be hosting students from our sister schools for two weeks as they participate in a cultural exchange here in London.
While our students were in class in China and on excursions experiencing the culture of China, Ana and I were able to join them. Here is some of what we experienced and learned:
- Chinese students begin their school day around 7:30 in the morning. Students take approximately 8 classes throughout the day 40 to 45 minutes in length.
- At about 9:30 the entire student body (2000 students) enter a center courtyard for 10 – 15 minutes of exercise. Senior students set out on a run and junior students are led in a round of stretching exercises accompanied by music.
- Lunch is a two hour rest break. Students living nearby walk home, have lunch and rest. Others remain at school, have lunch and rest.
- Afternoon classes end around 5:00 p.m. which is followed by 30 minutes of study for everyone.
- Students are in a uniform designed for comfort and activity. Students have both summer and winter uniforms. Since the uniforms are designed for activity there is no need to change to participate in physical activity.
- The average class size is 50 students in classrooms that are no larger than ours.
- Students in particular in the area of physical education and the arts choose the activity in which they wish to participate. These activities are of a wide range: tai chi, basketball, elite skipping, gymnastics, dance, classic Chinese musical instruments, calligraphy, badminton to name but a few.
- All the students we met genuinely enjoyed being in school.
- Students took great pleasure in learning about Canada, the structure of our school days and practicing their English with us. They also quite enjoyed having their picture taken with us, as did we.
- Not completing ones homework is unimaginable. We asked the question what would happened if homework was not competed. They didn’t know the answer because it just does not happen!!!
I know I speak for both Ana and myself when I say that we consider ourselves most fortunate and blessed to have had this unique opportunity to experience first-hand the culture and education of China through our MTS We Are Young team of Aaron, Christina, Diana, Emmanuel and Natalia and their counterparts Coco, Jerry, Wells, Li and Sally. It truly was an amazing and a once in a lifetime way to experience China!!
East met West and we are all so much richer for the experience.
Linda Staudt, Director of Education