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Learning to love their neighbors

ON June 2, as part of the International Children's Day celebrations, 5th-grade students from Concordia International School Shanghai spent a day getting back to the basics of the Second Great Commandment, loving their neighbors - migrant students from Ling He Elementary School - as ourselves.

The three goals of the cultural exchange were to reach out to the Shanghai community, to share the two cultures and for Concordia students to practice their Mandarin and Ling He students to practice their English.

The results went beyond the goals and made an impact on students from both schools. Students Ruth Utterback and Emily Lu wrote that they were "blessed to have this experience to help all the kids in the migrant school smile, including us."

A total of 200 students from both schools started the Cultural Exchange & Service Learning Activity Day as strangers but finished four hours later as friends. The day was packed with learning and language practice, and a range of physical activities and games.

Play is understood across all languages and the students cheered each other on throughout these activities to bridge gaps and build friendships. During the course of the day, they shared lunch, experienced each other's classrooms, played together and communicated. But most importantly, through the joy of giving, every student was changed by the experience.

Fifth-grader Taylor Adams said that the three most important things she learned during the day were that "the migrant kids aren't that different from us. Even though the migrant kids may be poor, they're really happy, polite and appreciative for what they have. We should be too. And the less fortunate than me seem to have a greater spirit than most wealthy people."

The comment of another Concordia student, Dar Vi, best sums up the experience: "I learned that even though we don't look the same and we speak different languages, we are the same in our core." Understanding this principle makes it easier to obey the command to love our neighbors as ourselves.


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