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November 24, 2020

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Embracing culture of East and West

Dulwich College Shanghai Year 13 student Yoran takes particular pride in his Shanghainese roots. Born in Shanghai in 2002, he moved to Hawaii after primary school before returning to his home city in 2018 to attend Dulwich Pudong.

Upon the teenager’s arrival at the school he immediately volunteered to host the school’s annual Chinese New Year gala as one of the bilingual hosts.

Yoran wanted to wear something unique to showcase his cultural heritage so he wore the same traditional Chinese gown (Zhongshan suit) his father had worn on his wedding day.

“I’m very proud of my background, and the students at Dulwich are very eager to learn about other cultures,” Yoran said. “The opportunity to host the Lunar New Year event was a real highlight.”

The Lunar New Year gala is just one-way Dulwich students engage with local culture, and there is a myriad of meaningful ways to experience Chinese culture.

Students gain cultural awareness from a wealth of creative ideas to bring the East and West together, and this begins with the Early Years Dulwich College Kindergarten and Infants’ School (DUCKS) program.

Worldwise education at DUCKS involves all the senses and helps students construct meaning from the world around them to build intercultural understanding.

The dual-language approach immerses children in both English and Mandarin throughout the Early Years and into Key Stage One.

A love of learning and fostering literacy is supported through a rich supply of books in English and Mandarin. Themes, vocabulary, concepts and perspectives can be learned and supported in the dual-language approach.

In the Early Years, students’ senses are engaged through pretend tea ceremonies, and role-playing meals that include Chinese utensils, chopsticks and steamed bun trays. Children always enjoy dressing up and traditional Chinese clothing is a popular choice.

At DUCKS, the learning environment contains a variety of culturally appropriate stimuli and carved artifacts to foster their interest and curiosity. Role-play areas include cultural references, such as a bank ATM that dispenses handmade Chinese notes and a noodle shop with bilingual menus in Mandarin and English.

Celebrating Chinese festivals is a highlight for all students. The history and symbolism in Chinese stories and poems from ancient festivals provide engaging discussions.

Early in the school year, the Mid-Autumn Festival offers an opportunity to engage with stories and eat tasty dumplings.

The Lunar New Year is filled with celebrations, including traditional dancers and teachers performing stories like the zodiac animals in The Great Race.

Dual-language teachers teach students how to write fu, or good luck, in calligraphy, construct paper lanterns and create plum blossom pictures.

Effort is made to connect with the English National Curriculum as often as possible.

Whether students are learning about everyday life or celebrating annual festivals, Chinese culture is creatively woven into the curriculum through engaging teaching methods. In 2019, 57 students from senior school won prizes at the “Chinese Culture into Campus” essay competition organized by Shanghai government.

(Shining Yang is head of Mandarin; Mandy Yu is junior school Mandarin coordinator; Vivi Zhao is DUCKS Mandarin coordinator at Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong.)


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