A voy­age of dis­cov­ery

Eastern Courier - - FRONT PAGE - IMOGEN NEALE

‘‘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.

IMOGEN NEALE / STUFF

Cul­ture club: How­ick Pri­mary School stu­dents are off to China to im­merse them­selves in their sis­ter school’s way of life and learn­ing.

SUPPLIED

Roxy at the SPCA last week.

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