In the summer of 2010, 18 students from Saint Francis High School went on our inaugural immersion program in Shenzhen, China. The same program is offered each summer if there is sufficient interest from the community.
Students take part in daily Chinese language classes at the Sinolink Primary School, a private school located in Shenzhen, China. Teachers are certificated Chinese elementary level teachers; the course of instruction offered will build upon the Chinese that students have learned. The class is meant to “exercise” their Chinese by using it extensively in and out of the classroom.
In addition to Chinese language instruction, students have daily cultural activities that include Chinese calligraphy, Chinese paper cutting, gongfu, taichi, ping pong, folk dance, and cooking. As Chinese high schools are still be in session, there are also visits to local high schools where are opportunities for students to learn about high school life in China.
Students stay in a hotel for the first and last night of the trip. For the remainder of the trip, students stay with Chinese host families who have children at the Sinolink School. The families are carefully selected and provide Saint Francis students with a view of modern day Chinese life. Most meals are taken at the cafeteria of the school or in the home of the host family; there are a small number of meals at outside restaurants. Most participants say that the most enriching part of the trip was staying with their host family.
Shenzhen has been selected as the destination for a number of reasons. There is a longstanding relationship in place with the Sinolink School, an award-winning private school, where the Saint Francis community hosts a group of students from Sinolink. The school is located in a property development with quality living conditions and good security. Shenzhen is a city of about 9 million residents, and is one of the most highly developed and fastest growing Chinese cities. As a relatively new “melting pot” city and a business hub in southern China, it is also unique in that Mandarin is the lingua franca so students will see and hear Mandarin in all aspects of daily life. The group flies to and from Hong Kong, and transits by bus to and from Shenzhen.