A voyage of discovery
‘‘We'll be doing a lot of cramming on the plane, I think.’’
It takes around 14 hours to fly from Auckland to Beijing. Young students from an East Auckland school plan to use some of that time cramming in last-minute Chinese lessons. The group of Year 4 to 6 Howick Primary School pupils are going to spend a week at their sister school in Hunan province, south central China.
Teacher and board of trustees chair Christina Bevan says a cohort from sister school, Lugu Primary in Changsha, has visited Howick several times and now it’s their turn to pack travel bags. The group includes students, parents and principal Leyette Callister.
For a week the Kiwi kids will experience day-to-day life as a student at a Chinese primary school. The learning will continue before and after class, as students will be billeted with school families. There are also plans for activities such as dumpling making.
Teacher Maggie May is helping them prepare for what lies ahead, from using chopsticks to asking for help. She says they’re ‘‘learning very well’’.
Bevan says Mandarin language has been taught at the Howick school for several years, but this group has stepped it up by adding an intensive weekly class with May from the Confucius Institute. She says they’re very grateful for May’s help, although they will still be ‘‘doing a lot of cramming on the plane, I think’’.
The Howick youngsters say they’re excited and nervous about the trip, with an opportunity to see the Great Wall of China a definite highlight.
For students like Samuel Scanlan it’s a chance to see how students his family have billeted, live. For others, such as sisters Valentina and Serena Song, it’s also an opportunity to visit family and friends.
Scanlan says a grant from Education New Zealand has helped meet travel costs, but there’s still some fundraising to do before they leave in mid-October. So far ideas include selling hot chocolates, busking and a raffle.
Such practicalities are lost on some of the young students who’re already thinking about how many movies, possibly in Chinese, they can watch on the flight to Beijing.
Culture club: Howick Primary School students are off to China to immerse themselves in their sister school’s way of life and learning.
Roxy at the SPCA last week.