Eight students, teacher travel to Beijing

Participants in trip to China absorb cultural differences over spring break, practice speaking Mandarin, visit historical sites like the Great Wall of China and Beijing Zoo

By Kate Rettig

From The Great Wall of China to the Tiananmen Square, students explored the city of Beijing, China.

Social studies teacher David Platt and eight students traveled a seven-day trip to China during spring break. Staying in and traveling, students had the opportunity to absorb the city’s culture.

“It is important to understand China in our modern world and for our students to see that although there are cultural differences people around the world have much more in common with each other than they might expect or have been led to believe,” Platt said.

One of the cultural differences that stuck out to the students was differing mannerisms.

“It was really different,” sophomore Dakota Collins said. “At lot of people are genuine and nice there. They’re more courteous than Americans are.”

Collins has studied Mandarin for a year and a half. She used the language when it came time to order meals at restaurants and speak to the locals.

Because China’s official language is Mandarin, students practiced speaking the language at monthly meetings prior to the trip. But that still didn’t prepare the students for the language barrier.

“It helped me a lot,” Collins said. “I got lost once when we got done with the Great Wall, so I was like, ‘What do I do now?’ So I had to talk to people. It came in really handy.”

One of the highlights of the trip for many students was seeing The Great Wall of China. It was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and is 13,170 miles long, which is the equivalent to the length of about 250 football fields. (Editor’s Note: The preceding error was just so hilarious, I just couldn’t remove it)

The students also explored historical sites within the city of Beijing, such as the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

In addition to the sites, the students visited a post high school. A post high school is a school for train for a specific industry. The purpose was to experience to taste the high school life of China.

“It was a business school, but it was interesting,” Mullen said. “We got to meet with the students there. We got to take pictures. They were about our age.”

As they walked the busy streets of Beijing, they noticed differences in architecture.

Beijing has three main architectural styles: Imperial (seen in the Forbidden City), “Sino-Sov” style (a boxy look) and contemporary style (a unique appearance).

“It was beautiful,” junior John Barbee said. “It was really great. I loved the buildings and architecture there.”

Platt, who has led international trips with students for 18 years, has already begun planning his next trip: a trip to London this summer.

“I like to travel to learn and experience new things,” Platt said. “It is exciting to share these experiences with students at the school in which I work. These opportunities are like an extension of the classroom.”