Who Wants to go to China?
By MAX LITVAK ‘20
Milton offers three modern languages for its students to study: Spanish, French, and Chinese. For around forty years, students from Milton have visited France and Spain to immerse themselves in the cultures; however, this year a Chinese exchange program was born.
Similarly to the established Spanish and French exchanges, students from China stay at Milton for three weeks and Milton students visit China a few months later. The first part of the exchange took place this winter when students from the school of East China Normal University, a renowned high school in Shanghai, came to Milton. The second part was when Milton students left for China on May 28th. Like the other two exchanges, the experience is meant to immerse students in a foreign language and culture.
Ethan Furdak ‘20, who hosted an exchange student in January, said that everything went “smoothly” but some of the students “had some trouble assimilating into our school environment” since the cultures are especially different. Although the cultural differences, which are larger in comparison to those of the Spanish or French exchange participants, may stand as a divide, the Chinese exchange provides students with an unparalleled learning opportunity. Dima Zayaruzny ‘21 talked about how he enjoyed “getting insight into their school system and the differences that they have.” Before even going to China, he had learned a lot about Chinese culture in class, especially the “little things that make huge differences in their lives.” Both students expressed excitement about their upcoming trip to China.
The trip will be three weeks long. Milton’s Chinese teacher Mrs. Zhou, an organizer of the trip, explains that students will stay with their host family for two weeks in Shanghai and then will travel to Xi’an and Beijing during the last week. Students will shadow their counterparts during classes and school activities, attend a variety of cultural classes, and explore the exciting historical and cultural sites in the close vicinity of Shanghai. Mrs. Zhou described the development of this new program as an example of “true teamwork.” People from all departments helped to make the trip possible.
Historically, the exchanges have always been major successes. During the Spanish exchange, students spend a month in Madrid with a host family and shadow their paired student at the high school El Pilar. Students go on daily excursions to local sites in Madrid and also travel farther out to Grenada, Seville, and other sites. Zane Bookbinder ‘20, who went on the Spanish exchange last year, said that the trip was very “urban and active.” Two of his highlights were the “view from the Alhambra Palace in Grenada” and “seeing the Valle de Los Caidos monument.” Many students also enjoyed the opportunity to see a Legends soccer game between Real Madrid and Arsenal.
Students are just as enthusiastic about the French exchange, in which students go to a suburb of Aix-en-Provence for two weeks and attend the Lyceé with their host student. Milton describes Aix as a charming, artistic city renown for its typical Provençal atmosphere and as a perfect place from which to discover Provence through its rich natural, cultural and culinary attributes. Zaki Alaoui ‘20 said that the exchange “was definitely one of the highlights of [his] sophomore year because [he] was able to build a bond with a person [he’s] never met before and experience new cultures.” One of his highlights of his trip was the amazing food.
While the Chinese exchange has its differences with the other two exchanges, their structures are similar enough that we can be optimistic about how it will turn out. From what students and teachers have expressed about the program so far, it seems like the exchange will be an amazing experience.