Tanglible excitement was in the air last Sunday at noontime when English Class family hosts first met their Chinese guests in the schoolyard of Cygnaeus School. Nine pupils and two teachers arrived from Wujin Qing Ying Foreign Language School, (WQYFLS), a school with an enrollment of approximately 2000 pupils. WQYFLS is located in the Wujin district in Changzhou in Jiangsu province of the People’s Republic of China.
The English Classes established a sister school relationship with WQYFLS in 2015. WQYFLS already had a prior sister school relationship with Rouse Hill Public School in Western Sydney, Australia and the success of that relationship encouraged them to look further abroad for friends. The main premise of a sister school programme is that it promotes intercultural awareness, broadens educational horizons by adding a global perspective and enhances understanding for all those involved with the programme.
A hand-texted poem written by a pupil at the Wujin Qing Ying Foreign Language School (WQYFLS) was presented on a scroll to Mr. Arto Suni, the headmaster of Cygnaeus School.
The rest of Sunday was spent with our guests getting to know their host families. Some families toured the town of Pori with their guests, some went to the lovely island park on Kirjurinluoto. Others simply spent quality time together having fun and getting acquainted.
On Monday our Chinese guests attended lessons in the English Classes. One 12-year old Chinese guest noted that there were many, many differences. She noted that there is no going outdoors at all at WQYFLS because there are no recesses in the course of a day. Class sizes are also much larger. In her class at WQYFLS there are 38 pupils. She also said that there are schools in Changzhou where there can be as many as 50 – 80 pupils in one class!
After a good, robust snack after school on Monday, pupils and their hosts went to Adventure Park Huikee, which is close to Yyteri Beach.
Once there, everyone got geared up with safety harnesses and helmets. At first some children felt a bit timid and uncertain, but little by little successful experiences encouraged them and others to try to push their own boundaries.
It was ultimately an experience that the children will not soon forget! All that exercise helped work up big appetites.
The pasta served in the restaurant where the hosts and guests ate went down a treat! (That probably should not come as a surprise because pasta originated in China, where noodles are a staple in diets along with rice.)
On Tuesday everyone attended normal classes at school. In the afternoon the two teachers from WQYFLS participated in a tour of the town of Pori. Children were entertained by their host families in a myriad of ways as seen in the photo collages.
Although the sun was behind a thick layer of clouds during their whole visit, and it was very cool, that did nothing to spoil the visit. In fact, one guest said that it was nice having cool temperatures because it is often so warm in Wujin. She said that they almost never experience snow there. (That should not be surprising because their school is located at about the same latitude as Jerusalem, Israel; Madeira, Portugal or Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A.)
All good things come to an end, and so it was with this visit. At 8 am on Wednesday morning, WQYFLS pupils and teachers lined up carrying their new blue Pori tote bags ready to leave Pori. From here the group headed to Rovaniemi where they are going to visit Santa Claus. Then they will travel to Tartu, Estonia where they have established yet a third sister school relationship.
Visits like this require a lot of preparations and planning. Inevitably, it pays off big dividends to all of the participants in the end and winds up being a rewarding, win-win situation. To the warm, gracious English Class families involved in hosting these guests, we want to say thank you! You made this visit the success it was.