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February 29, 2012

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China Week trips prove priceless

AS a Dulwich College Shanghai student, the thing that I'm most proud of is my China Week experiences.

What is China Week? It's the time in the year when we embark upon a five-day journey to destinations in rural China. Everyone from Year 5 to Year 12 travels to a location in rural China to experience and submerge into the local culture and way of life.

I personally believe that the worst thing to do as an expatriate in China is to isolate yourself from the local community. As expats, we are one of the small groups of people in the world who can have the opportunity and ability to reach out to the local community around us and help the weak and the poor in society.

I've been at Dulwich for five years, and each year, the school never fails to disappoint us in coming up with some amazing trips. Let me share with you my experiences from my most memorable trips:

In Year 8, we went to Yangshuo, a beautiful scenic city in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. If you've ever been to Yangshuo, you will certainly remember the peculiar karst mountains that shape the landscape. While we were there, we did rock climbing, kayaking and cycled through the picturesque terrain. Of course, it wasn't all fun and play in latter years!

Now you may be thinking that China Week is just another ordinary school trip where we go sightseeing and live in fancy hotels; well here's the catch: we don't get to live in fancy hotels, nor do we go everywhere in luxury buses. In Year 9, we threaded through narrow hiking trails, carrying our burdensome hiking bags and trying to not slip on the slippery rock faces. We lived in local villagers' houses - a special honor indeed - yet sleep was tricky because of a large dragonfly corpse dangling precariously on a spider web above me. But these worries were gone the next day when we taught the local village children. Seeing their eager faces as they learned English, and their ecstatic smiles when we played games touched my heart.

Of course, there are times when my friends from other schools tell me about their trips to London or Paris, making me envious. Yet each year, after China Week, I realize that what I learn and experience on these trips is priceless.

(Sapphira Yip is Year 12 student at Dulwich.)


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