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Secondary School Week Without Walls: Part II

20171020 ssWWWweek-II-banner

For our second post on the Secondary School Week Without Walls this year, we would like to share some stories from various people involved with this massive and great undertaking. To prepare for this event that is life changing and eye opening, there is certainly much to be said from different perspectives. Please read on for our community members’ thoughts. Also, please don’t forget to click on the link below to watch a video showing a glimpse of what our students and teachers experienced on their amazing travels around our host country China.



Secondary School Principal Colleen Drisner

At BCIS, we place high value on learning experiences like the Week Without Walls explorations. By engaging in “outside of the classroom” experiences, such as field trips, enrichment activities, and athletics, students are able to make connections between what they are learning in texts and what they are experiencing through purposeful action.

 On their recent journeys, our Grade 6 students experienced the Shaolin Temple and learned more about the art of Kung Fu. Our Grade 7s hiked Mount Tai in Shandong province and explored the birth place of Confucius. Our Grade 8 students took a train journey to Inner Mongolia where they slept in yurts and explored the grasslands. Our Grade 9s stayed in a former prison and experienced the art of woodblock carving in Dalian. Our Grade 10s traveled to Moganshan where they hiked in the Bamboo Forest and built bamboo rafts. Our Grade 11 students went to Shanxi where they learned the art of historic preservation. While everyone was away, our Grade 12 students worked on their Extended Essays and Internal Assessments. They also started to explore university life and went to our teaching kitchen to prepare a meal. If you’re hungry, have them whip up some fajitas for you. They were delicious!

Not only did our students explore new places, they also sharpened essential life skills, such as time and money management. They demonstrated resilience, organization skills, perseverance, and empathy towards others.


MYP and DP Chinese Teacher Sun Jian

I think this Grade 9 trip is well connected with Dalian's local history and culture. On the first day, the scavenger hunt game that was held helped students improve the sense of direction and team work cooperation without any electronic devices, like iphones or ipads. What’s more, they highly enjoyed the architecture and history of Dalian. Visiting the modern history museum and prison in Lvshun let students have a deeper understanding of history, specifically connecting Chinese history to the world, which contributed to them becoming world citizens. Of course, the sea food offered and beautiful beach were quite popular. All these things became a wonderful memory in our minds.


Grade 10 Student Astrid Long

My favorite memory at WWW was the hiking. It was memorable because we hiked so long and we were exhausted to death. But we got to spend the whole day with our best friends and encouraged each other to hike farther and persevere. We shared mosquito spray together and also drove off the mosquitos for each other. We enjoyed chatting with each other during the hiking. I enjoyed this hiking as an exercise to lose weight, so I was delighted to complete it. Somehow, the hike could have been more interesting if we picked a day that was not so hot and humid, or if we found more ways to motivate us.


Grade 10 Student Rachel Wang

My experience during this www has to be the rafting activity in the reserve. I not only enjoyed the building process of the raft, but also the when we got in the water and tried our rafts. Although the rain was heavy, we were all happy about seeing the wonderful scenery and working together. Unfortunately, I fell in the water, which actually is a big reason why this will be an unforgettable experience. 


Grade 10 Student Jason Wang

The part that I enjoyed the most on the trip to Moganshan was making a song about the place. It was the last task in the scavenger hunt on the fourth day of the trip. The song my group made was so good! It was praised by everyone, including the teachers. I am so proud of the song we made, although we came in last place in the scavenger hunt. 


Rebeka Sundin, Proud BCIS Parent of Children in Grade 2, Grade 6, and Grade 7

First off, we’re new here – just arrived in China for the first time. The idea of sending our children off deep into a country they just arrived in and don’t speak the language yet, was a surprise to say the least. When we were told there were going without a phone, well that was, quite frankly, a bit scary. Although we can appreciate the educational opportunity that this trip provided for our children we also became quite aware of its emotional value as well. The Week Without Walls turned out to be not just an adventure for our children, but a milestone for parents in learning the lesson of letting go. 

 As foreigners, we are happy our children were able to experience another culture, to see firsthand many national treasures and beautiful landmarks that our new home as to offer. I have to admit I was jealous that they have visited the very places that I have read about in history (like the Longmen Grottoes and Shandong Temple) and that were on my own list of things to see in China. My daughter learned Kung Fu not in a sweaty gym, but in its true birthplace and on top of a mountain surrounded by breathtaking and inspirational views. My son came home excited, “I learned to use chopsticks!” while his Chinese teacher noted proudly that he spoke Chinese (您好) everywhere he went. The sacred Mt. Tai, was not so scary to climb as it seemed, and is now a memory etched deeply in the children’s sense of achievement.  Smartphones? What do you need those for? The children all played together … and actually talked to each other! They were able to make true friends and become successfully integrated into their new classrooms and for us, our new life here in China.

 But what about the parents? WeChat for parents is one of the coolest resources we have found in our new school. It’s great for newcomers and an informal way to build our community. Here parents are free to express their questions, their fears, post pics of our children as BCIS Warriors in competitions, and lean on each other for support and understanding. Anxious mothers much like myself asked many questions, and we all shared and adored the pictures from the trip together. But one post from one of our BCIS parents, Sammy Liu, stood out to me and made quite an impression. I have asked permission to re-post Mr. Liu’s post here:

 Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. 

They come through you but not from you, 

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. 

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls, 

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 

Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. 

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 

And he bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. 

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; 

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 

So He loves also the bow that is stable. 

(From the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibrans)


Thank you Mr. Liu for this post and thank you to the BCIS community for a great WWW adventure for children and parents alike!


Grade 6 Homeroom Teacher Alison Sae-Sue

Hard work, self-control, courage, responsibility, perseverance, and respect. These are the core values of the Xie Martial Arts school. The Grade 6 students were introduced to them the day before we set off for the Shaolin Temple in Henan province. Our Kung-Fu masters, Master He and Master Fu, led the students through a series of training moves such as the Crane, Forward Stance, and Elbow Strike. The Grade 6 students’ first attempts were often slightly uncoordinated, accompanied by giggles and definitely wobbly, but it was amazing to see their perseverance and progress in mastering the moves over the following days. Practicing in front of the Shaolin Temple with an audience of tourists and monks certainly gave them the inspiration to perform with courage, and to show respect for their Masters and the historic setting.

In their Individuals and Societies class, the students had read about the history of the Shaolin Temple- from its early days in the time of Bodhidharma, through tumultuous eras of destruction and rebuilding, and right up to the contemporary times of the current abbot. This history certainly came alive for them as on the second day of the trip, they walked over the stones worn shiny and smooth by centuries of monks, placed their fingers in the holes in tree trunks that had been made by countless hours of practicing Kung-Fu, and gazed at the temple halls through the smoke of burning incense. They spoke to practicing monks and also interviewed novice Kung-Fu students from various countries about their experiences at the temple. The hike to Bodhidharma’s cave, which is situated behind temple, was a challenge for many. However, to see the place where he is reputed to have spent nine years meditating, and to admire the spectacular view from the peak was well worth the climb. Our students should also be proud of themselves for completing the return journey in record time, according to our Hutong trip leader, Ms. Kyla McIntyre.

Day Three brought us in glorious blue skies and sunshine to the Longman Grottoes at Luoyang. The willow trees along the river bank gave us shade as we climbed up, down, and along the cliff face to see the niches and caves that are filled with statues and paintings. Our students expressed their astonishment at their beauty and also discussed why so many statues were often headless and damaged. The Fengxiansi Cave and its towering giant statues from the Tang Dynasty provided an opportunity for some quiet reflection on the history of the area, haiku writing, and sketching.

Our last morning at Dengfeng was spent at the Xi Wang Wen Wu School where our Grade 6 students were welcomed by a group of local students. After watching an impressive Kung-Fu show performed by the school students, some as young as six years old, our recently learned Kung-Fu moves were taught to the students. In return, our Grade 6s learned a new routine from the Xi Wang Wen Wu students. Shyness on both sides soon disappeared as games were played, conversations started, and jokes told. The relaxed and friendly atmosphere created by the students from both schools, made this year’s school exchange experience one of the most successful yet. It also led to some mature and thoughtful reflections on the lives of the children who live at the school throughout the year and practice Kung-Fu for several hours a day.

This year’s Grade 6 Week Without Walls gave our BCIS students many opportunities to show their leadership, cooperation, courage, and empathy. It also encouraged them to appreciate and reflect on the heritage of Henan, the “cradle of Chinese civilization.”


BCIS is accredited by the CIS (Council of International Schools) and WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), which demonstrates that the school meets demanding international standards in all the areas of philosophy and objectives, curriculum, governance and management, staff, student support services, resources, and student and community life.Visit www.cois.org and www.acswasc.org for more information.

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation, motivated by its mission, focused on the student. The three programmes for students aged 3 to 19 help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Founded in 1968, IBO currently works with 2,771 schools in 138 countries to develop and offer three challenging programmes to over 763,000 students aged 3 to 19 years.Visit www.ibo.org for more information.

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