Recently, our Secondary School students headed traveled on numerous trips off campus for the exciting event known as Week Without Walls (WWW). Believing it is essential to connect China to the world through as many aspects of school life as possible, we have made WWW a full week extravaganza dedicated to allowing our students to not only see more of our host country, but also feel it, taste it, and truly experience it in every respect through age-appropriate activities, such as farming with locals and hiking in interesting locales, arranged for each day of the week. Please read on further for some of the highlights students from each of the grade levels shared about their adventures on the road.
(Special thanks to the amazing Editorial Team for the words and photos contributed)
Grade 6: Xiwang Kung-Fu School
By: Haeun Cho
On the third day, we visited the Xiwang Kungfu school. We introduced ourselves to the students there, and after doing a few warmups together, we learned Kungfu from our "masters." They were really good! They prepared a show for us, and I was surprised that the little children could do such hard tricks. Later, I learned that this is what is called,"Kids Kungfu." During lunch, we discussed in advisory groups about how we can help the Xiwang Kungfu school improve its conditions to thank them for welcoming us and preparing such an incredible show.
Grade 7: Shandong Province
By: Helen Wang
Day 1: When challenge, fun, fear, and laughter all collide, a mix of vibrant colors appears at full brightness. This is certainly an experience we all should have. Most people liked the part where we went up the ladder and leaped between wooden trials. We also learned how to be independent and cooperate at the same time.
Day 2: Time flows like water; it never stops, but we keep the clearest parts to ourselves so we can remember it. The lawn game was one of the most successful activities that the Hutong arranged for us. The location was perfect, a wavy green valley fading away with ribbons of trees and the velvet floor of vibrant green grass. The icon Confucius was involved in every round. We loved the potato sack game as well, for which we got in potato sacks and tried to jump forward in alternate lanes to see who wins. Sounds fun, right?
Day 3: Everyone would agree that Mount Tai was the most incredible aspect of our trip. While it was not as beautiful as the Blue Mountains in Carolina, or not as stunning as Mount Eiger in Switzerland, it is very underrated. My advice for future climbers is to not look down, but look far ahead. The whole city was buried in a cushion of soft, hazy clouds. Tall buildings reached up and the mountains in the distance surrounded them like fences. It was like a fantasy world that exists in a movie. Different people see the world differently, so gaze forward and unleash your imagination! It is your own wonderland, wherever your mind and nature intertwine.
Grade 8: Inner Mongolia
By: Mayank Thomas
Day 1: We all woke up on the overnight train from Beijing to Inner Mongolia. We ate breakfast in a traditional Mongolian restaurant, where we were served a wide variety of dairy products like yogurt with millet (a crunchy ball), hot milk, and more. Then we went to the desert, where we got a chance to ride camels and sled down the sand dunes. We also did Qigong, a breathing exercise that helps with relaxation.
Day 2: We ate lunch at a little restaurant and hiked the Daqing mountain. When we arrived at the top, the wind started to blow. We had some free time while up there, so we took in the amazing scenery. Afterwards, we all went back down the mountain by (please guess) ...chairs!
Day 3: We ate lunch there and took part in a Naadaam festival, which consisted of three different sports: wrestling, archery, and horse riding. Unfortunately, there weren't any horses to ride, so we made dumplings instead.
Day 4: We did an activity in which the Hutong staff dressed up as three historical Mongolian figures (Genghis Khan, Koubilaï Khan, and Xiao Zhuang). As these people, they told their life stories to combined advisory groups. We then had to make up a little skit to show the other groups how these famous people lived in the past.
Grade 9: Dalian
By: Carrie Shang and Titi Highland
Day 1: A high-speed train took us north to Dalian. After a five-hour train ride, we spent the afternoon at Hammer beach, enjoying the scenic view of the ocean. Some of us built a small pebble fortress, while others enjoyed a game of frisbee.
Day 2: The day began with a visit to the Dalian Modern Museum where we discovered the city's history while under the control of Russia and Japan. In the afternoon, we learned the art of woodcarving from a local artisan. After creating our own unique mementos, each advisory worked together for an Urban Scavenger Hunt before dinner.
Day 3: We hiked in the Jinlongsi Forest Park, enjoying some quality time in mother nature, while pushing ourselves to the limit made for a marvelous experience. We all persevered and eventually reached our goal. That afternoon, we visited the Lvshun Submarine Museum for an informative, interactive tour where we saw the inside structure of a once active submarine.
Day 4: We visited a former Russo-Japanese Prison. The journey was silent as we paid our respects to the victims who had to endure incredible hardships. We were shocked and aghast to learn about the events that happened there. It was indeed a grave reminder of Dalian's history. That afternoon, we played "Capture the Flag" in the Russian Bunkers near Erlongshan. We later traveled to Baiyushan for a 360-degree view of Lvshun Harbor.
This journey during Week Without Walls gave us an opportunity to bond with our peers, enjoy the beauty of a coastal city, and learn a crucial part of Chinese history. We would like to thank our teachers and the Hutong members who made this trip an unforgettable experience. We look forward to our next WWW adventure!
Grade 10: Moganshan
By: Lucy Jin
For this year's WWW, the Grade 10s went to Moganshan in ZheJiang Province. We broke through all boundaries, bonding and having fun while exploring the wondrous backstory of the natural retreat.
Day 1: We arrived in Moganshan with an open mind, and was delighted by the non-polluted, vast blue sky. Separated into several groups, we investigated our surrounding areas and created beautiful maps to help us navigate.
Day 2: In the early morning, after some exercise routines and stretches, we approached the hard task of climbing Moganshan. We were divided into two groups, those who walk faster and those prefer to walk slower. Both groups enjoyed the same sceneries, feeling the gusty wind and the warm embrace of nature.
Day 3: We were sorted into four groups, and rotated, enjoying four different, yet equally engaging activities, varying from building a bamboo raft to farming and cooking a traditional dish.
Day 4: In small groups, we roamed around in the village, interviewing the locals and frolicking with the adorable dogs. We created several projects that varied from videos to brochures.
Grade 11: Sichuan Province
By: Victoria Li
On the first day, Grade 11 students took an eight-hour train ride from Beijing to Chengdu. As one can imagine, we were the first group to arrive at school on Monday morning. Besides the early wake up time and all the fatigue that comes with this, we had a great hotpot dinner (for which we were able to order our own food!) after we reached our destination. So that was pretty much the highlight of the first day.
On the second day, we visited the famous Panda Research Base. Although we heard many younger students showed envy regarding our itinerary, as a responsible junior, I would like to warn my younger peers to be prepared for the heat and large crowds they will face in the future. Yes, pandas are super cute, and it was an amazing experience to see them. However, what was really shocking to me was the experience we had that afternoon at the Huiling Centre, where we met people with learning disabilities and tried our best to entertain them (although we were mostly entertaining ourselves, I have to say). It was astonishing to witness how my peers are truly such compassionate and inspiring students. We all really tried our best to interact with these less fortunate people, which led to a thought-provoking discussion at night about what community and services we can offer. Although we cannot physically empathize with them, there were a number of us that engaged in conversation with them, showing there are people in this world who truly care about them.
On the third day, it rained cats and dogs when we left People's Park where we played Mahjong (please note younger classmates, you will be able to do the same in the future, so hang in there). We were able to overcome this challenge well and still visit Du Jiang Yan in the afternoon. The history behind Du Jiang Yan is rich, but I will leave that to our dear readers to find out.
On the fourth day, we went to Wenchuan and visited two Qiang Villages. Yes, this is the same Wenchuan where the devastating earthquake happened 10 years ago. This brings back my memory from kindergarten of how our school was asked us to donate to Wenchuan almost every month. From the pictures, you can pretty much tell that the post-earthquake construction has been quite successful, as there is hardly any trace of the massive earthquake in the area. When we visited the Qiang villages, it was also a great way to interact with nature, as we stopped by on the way downhill to draw sketches of what we saw in the natural landscape.
On the last day, we went to the airport in Chengdu and returned to Beijing. This was a great way to conclude the trip!