Students have also made other plans for outside the classroom while in China. They’ll travel to major landmarks like the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City in Beijing, and they’re slated to perform American music in a musical festival taking place at the school, they said.
“We have a city theme within our performance, traveling through America with our songs,” student Devika Ranjan said. “We’re kind of showing them America through its arts. With art, you don’t need language to communicate.”
At a basic level, students attending “can practice the language,” Lynn said.
But she and other officials feel there is much more to gain by living inside the culture for a week.
“You can never know how much it will impact their awareness, the opportunity to have a different perspective, to build a greater understanding, greater tolerance of others,” Superintendent Marinel McGrath said.
Jorge Allen, the district’s world language program adviser, said the students will be “able to make that connection from the classroom to the country.”
“The school becomes a gateway to the world,” he said.
Costs are covered mainly through a grant from the Asia Society’s Confucius Classrooms Network. With the grant, the trip was only $2,200 per student, paid for by their families. Lodging, meals and other costs picked up when in China are covered by the hosting school, Andover High Principal Chris Lord said.
The school is looking to build a relationship with the Hengshui School, allowing local students to stay there and, in return, inviting students from Hebei to come live with volunteering Andover families in June.
Those on the trip will leave America on Saturday, April 13 and travel over the North Pole to get to China, Lord said. They’ll leave China Sunday, April 21, but by crossing the dateline on the way back, they’ll land back in the States earlier than when they departed.