Remember the first time you stepped into a new school and became engulfed in a wide range of emotions? Indeed, joining a new school can be a daunting task for most people, especially those that fear the unknown. With certainty, most people can remember their first experience stepping into the halls of their new school, being lost and scared, yet excited about what lies ahead. At BCIS, we know this very well. Therefore, a group of dedicated teachers created the two-week summer camp known as XperienceBCIS. Steven Selkirk, MYP & DP English Teacher and this year's camp coordinator, shared, "It's always difficult starting a new school, so we try to relieve some of that first day anxiety by focusing on community, collaboration, and communication." The specially designed program helps new students, whether they are coming from local schools, other international schools, or schools located abroad, smoothly transition to BCIS by becoming comfortable with their new environment and getting acquainted with their peers and teachers. Indeed, through team building exercises, well-crafted learning experiences, and lots of fun, the students not only become fully prepared for the new school semester, they gain new friends to make the same journey as they are.
Since the focus of the camp is to help new students become acclimated with their new environment and make them feel welcomed, numerous activities are conducted that both challenge and engage the children. For example, Elementary School students work on creating beautiful artistic pieces, building sustainable plant holders, and even baking cookies while developing their collaboration and communication skills. Regarding the latter, this is the first time for many of the students to actually take part in the cooking process, which is a real treat in itself. This year, ECC students also became involved with the camp, clearly showing that all our new students from the younger divisions do their best to adapt well to the education system implemented by the school by reshaping and forming their own personal learning habits. The Secondary School students are great examples of this, faring well during the first step of their academic journey in BCIS.
As in previous years, the Secondary School students were separated into groups designated with specific tasks to handle. The "Who Am I?" group where students individually reflect on how their past and present has shaped their future selves. They explore themes of identity and a sense of self, gaining the confidence necessary to succeed not only in the next chapter in their lives, but overall future. The "HuangYing!" (which stands for "Welcome" in Chinese) committee was tasked to work on a welcome pack and brochure for new teachers. This meant creating detailed maps of subways and bus routes around the school, translating menus of popular local dishes served at restaurants nearby, and even detailing all the functions of the essential apps necessary to survive in Beijing. Through this, they were able to become more familiar with BCIS in terms of which teachers are working at the school, as well as minute details of the local community and its surroundings. The "Document Us!" team, also known as the "Storytellers," was given the very important and worthy task of recording and documenting all the interesting happenings of the XperienceBCIS Secondary School camp to share with others. With video cameras in hand, the students filmed the actions of all the groups and collected a wealth of visual data goodness, resulting in a final product that was a creative, well-done documentary. Lastly, the "How To" team was added to the mix this year as an extension of the previous camp's successful mini-activity of the same name to provide students the opportunity to challenge themselves in a personalized way with this project, as well as give them the choice of making the tasks involved either easy or difficult according to their liking.
Overall, by taking part in XperienceBCIS, students are able to gain courage, take initiative, and form strong bonds with new friends and teachers. In addition, they develop their communication, social, time-management, and decision-making skills through the camp. Just as important, the students learn to embody the school motto of "Empowering and Inspiring through Challenge and Compassion," showing what the BCIS spirit is all about. In such a short period of time, our new warriors are able to gain a wealth of knowledge, as well as a memorable experience that prepares them well for the upcoming academic year.