Grades 6-12; Boarding 8-12


China Trip Offers Immersive Language Experience and Fosters Intercontinental Friendships

Hello from China! Our incredibly long journey to Beijing took us from New Jersey to New York, then through Korea before our final arrival in Beijing…where we immediately crashed at our hotel. After some much needed rest, we headed out to explore Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. One of the most amazing things was how the modern day and ancient history exist simultaneously in Beijing. The architecture here is absolutely incredible and we could not get over just how BIG the Forbidden City is! 

All that exploring really worked up our appetites, and we indulged in a seemingly endless feast of Peking duck with some of the parents of our Chinese students. Meeting the parents was really wonderful, and after our meal we headed back out to a courtyard museum. Later, we painted masks in the style of the makeup Peking opera actors would wear, and enjoyed a Beijing barbecue for dinner that night! 

The next morning, the sun was shining brightly on our visit to the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China, and it was every bit as awe-inspiring as we imagined. After all that walking, we were treated to a foot bath and massage experience based on traditional Chinese medicine. Feeling completely relaxed, we headed to dinner, which featured a short Peking opera for entertainment and reminded us of the face masks we had just painted.

Our last day in Beijing was spent at Tiantan Park, which is a complex of religious buildings in the Dongcheng district of the city. Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties once visited this park, also known as The Temple of Heaven, to pray for a good harvest. There is so much history here, and we walked on paths shaded by trees that are hundreds of years old. We practiced our Chinese by talking to the locals, and even joined in on some of their morning workouts, like Tai Chi and Jianzi. 

From Beijing we traveled to Shanghai by high speed train and visited an ancient water town nearby called Zhujiajiao, which is known for its bridges. We were able to practice our Chinese some more, and focused on perfecting really important phrases like, “I'll have ice cream now!” Being here in China makes strengthening our Chinese language skills so much easier. We can’t believe all the progress we are making!

After the quiet of Zhujiajiao, we shifted gears to the fast-paced city life of Shanghai. The view of the city from Shanghai Tower—the tallest building in all of China—was truly spectacular. Our days were jam-packed with fun activities, like riding bikes along the Huangpu River, attending a lecture at Fudon University, and, of course, stuffing ourselves with all of the fabulous cuisine the city has to offer! We enjoyed many of our meals at traditional Chinese dining establishments, but we also tried the cafeterias and dining halls of some educational institutions in Shanghai. 

One of those institutions, XiWai International School, was one of the best parts of our entire trip. We had a wonderful time making fast friends with the students and faculty there, and the day flew by far too quickly; no one wanted to say goodbye when the time came. This journey to China has been utterly extraordinary in so many ways, offering us exciting new experiences and the most amazing new friendships. And thanks to this trip, our vastly-improved Chinese language skills help ensure that we can continue communicating with our new friends and building upon those friendships long after we have returned home. 

Click here to read more about Pennington’s World Languages program, which offers study in Chinese, German, Spanish, French, and Latin, or contact Director of Cross-Cultural Experiential Learning, Lida Castro, for more information.

The Pennington School gratefully acknowledges Bei Li and Huai An Zhang P’16 ’22 ’28, whose generous support made this entire trip possible, and Sophia Wei and Michael Li P’25 for their assistance in coordinating many of the trip logistics.