One of the biggest highlights of our calendar at Nanjing International School is Discover China Week. Discover China is a challenging and fulfilling time for our students, and with incredible trip destinations like Moganshan, Chongming Island, Tianmu, Lin’an, Songyang, and Thousand Island Lake, it is little surprise that our alumni have fond memories of their trip experiences long after they leave NIS. Launched in 2001, our Discover China programme aims to broaden student experiences and knowledge of China, all while helping to create a better and more peaceful world.
In a safe environment, our learners can experience unfamiliar cultures and new activities. During the three-to five-day Discover China trips out of school with their classmates, students learn, reflect, and grow as individuals. The programme offers students cultural, personal, interpersonal, and environmental experiences not available within the regular classroom walls.
“It provides all our students with opportunities to foster international mindedness and burst the bubble by making connections with local arts, history, food, architecture, and people,” explained NIS Activities Coordinator Ms. Anna Yuen. “Discover China also personalizes learning by encouraging students to grow outside the classroom, refines inclusion where everyone achieves personal success, and fosters a culture of trial and error where students become more courageous and resilient to serve others by empathizing with them to create a better reality for all.”
Discover China effectively supplements and builds on school-based learning by providing students with further opportunities to build friendships, experience unfamiliar cultures, and develop collaboration and leadership skills. Through their adventures, Discover China is a chance for students to grow a stronger sense of responsibility, perseverance, passion, and creativity.
The COVID-19 pandemic certainly changed the way we organised Discover China this year. However, it also presented an opportunity to improve our programme. For Discover China 2021, NIS ran 7 brand new trips with an authentic service component that aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We replaced all air travel with more sustainable modes of transportation. Through all of this, one thing did not change: the safety and well-being of our students and teachers.
All students in our Middle and Upper Schools are involved in Discover China, with students in Grades 6-11 immersing themselves in authentic service projects and a range of activities aimed at fostering physical, social, and emotional wellness. Our Grade 5 students also get a taste of Discover China and their trip is linked to one of their Units of Inquiry.
The Grade 12 trip occurs after IB examinations are completed and is a celebration of their time together at NIS. This year’s Graduation Trip is tailored to student voice and student choice, a cornerstone of our school’s award-winning education strategy. Students can choose more physical pursuits such as hiking, high ropes, cycling or kayaking or more recreational activities such as weaving, painting, an Amazing Race, or even a visit to a beekeeper.
“These experiences can change what students know and believe, opening doors they did not realise were there,” said Ms. Yuen. “Students develop an understanding of others, awareness, action and advocacy. We hope Discover China will inspire them to become engaged and caring global citizens who are committed to connecting with and understanding others across both cultural and language barriers.”