Educators, students, and parents from The Lippman School recently enjoyed a two-week adventure in China. The trip kicked off with two days in Hong Kong, where they ascended Victoria Peak for breathtaking views of the city, its impressive and sprawling ports, and its weathered volcanic peaks.
The group of 16 journeyed north by ferry to Dali Town (Foshan) in mainland China, where they spent three days at Lippman’s Chinese partner school, The Dali Experimental Elementary School. Students engaged in classes alongside their Chinese buddies while teachers and parents visited classrooms to discuss American life and interact with fifth and sixth grade students. The group learned how to make and host a formal tea, spent an evening with their friends’ families from the Dali School, and participated in a school-wide Education and Culture Day.
The entire group contributed to a service project where they made and delivered dumplings to the elderly in the surrounding community. While in Foshan, the group also visited Shawan’s Ancient Town, which has a rich 800-year architectural and family history.
“This trip was part of an ongoing cultural exchange Lippman has with the Dali School. It marked the fifth exchange with our schools, which has included teacher and administrator visits, guest teaching on both sides, and student exchanges in Akron and now China. It was a rich, rewarding experience for everyone involved,” said Matt Russ, teacher and curriculum coordinator at Lippman, who has participated in both of Lippman’s trips to China.
Two additional Lippman educators continued in residence at The Dali School for 10 days: Technology Specialist John Bennett, who also has made the two Lippman treks to China, and Lyndsey Kirk, a reading, math and social studies teacher who also teaches at Lippman’s Cultural Immersion Camp. They worked with over 30 second through sixth grade classes, sharing discourse about family, the Lippman School’s Northern Cheyenne collaboration, as well as the Akron area and other U.S. destinations. They even instructed an after-school basketball clinic and introduced third graders to Ozobot robot technology. They both feel their time at The Dali School enriched their teaching experience and strengthened both schools’ commitment to share and learn together.
“We have much to learn from one another, and both our communities benefit when we can share our cultures and spend time in one another’s communities,” said Russ. “What we bring home in the way of knowledge and deeper understanding is invaluable.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the group traveled by bullet train to Yangshuo. They visited a centuries-old Confucius Temple in Gongcheng and enjoyed a choreographed evening light show on the Li River in Yangshuo. The following morning they cycled through the Yulong River Ecological Park among the karst peaks, agricultural fields, and small villages. Some of the group even camped in tents that night, surrounded by the majestic landscape.
Another flight and bus ride landed the group at a small village hostel nestled against the granite Yan Mountains, where a portion of The Great Wall of China snakes its way over the landscape. This area north of Beijing is somewhat remote, and after a challenging hike through the mountains, they were able to access an original portion of The Great Wall rarely seen by tourists. The hike was followed by a long bus ride back to Beijing.
In Beijing, everyone traveled to The Temple of Heaven, or Tian Tan, which is regarded as both a Taoist temple and a Chinese heaven worship location. The six-hundred year old buildings and grounds were visited for centuries by worshippers praying for a good harvest. This visit was followed by a trip to a local market and then an afternoon at an opera school. The group observed students training in costume, donned head dresses, and designed their own opera masks as a primer for attending a full performance of the Beijing Opera that evening. The following morning, the group ascended to the top of Jingshan Hill, a 600-year-old constructed high-point located at the historical geographic center of Beijing. The peak offered panoramic views of Beijing, including the Forbidden City.
Mr. Xu, Principal of the Dali School, stated the following about the recent experience and the future of the partnership: “The activities not only have inspired passion and enthusiasm among the teachers, parents and students from both schools in building up connections and relationships, but also help us understand Lippman School’s multi-cultural education better. The regular visits between the two schools plant a seed for better cooperation between two schools, two cultures and two countries. We are looking forward to building the connections and our relationships deeper and wider.”