Spring Break China Trip

by John Weaver
Montverde Academy created a cultural exchange partnership with Handan No. 2 High School in China. The partnership began through a series of video chats in October. Then, a group of nine students from Handan No. 2 High School visited MVA in February 2019. In return, a group of MVA students, accompanied by me, Mr. John Weaver, visited Handan No. 2 High School in March 2019. 
Our group had a chance to visit the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City before traveling to Handan in the Hebei Province by high speed train. The train traveled almost 200 miles per hour! We arrived in Handan and received a red carpet welcome by Mr. James, Ms. Vivian, Ms. Zhou and Mr. Grain.
Handan No. 2 High School gave our students a tour of the school and then welcomed us all on stage in front of 5,600 students and faculty. They presented gifts and gave us the opportunity to greet the Chinese students. Our students visited an English class, a physics class and a biology class. Although classes had more than 50 students, the environment was very engaging and interactive. Every student was paying attention and contributing to the lesson.
Outside the classroom, our students had a chance to fly drones and kites, learn the art of paper-cutting, participated in a robotics class, experienced a Chinese tea ceremony, and joined with students from Thailand in a cultural presentation. The Chinese students prepared a presentation on their visit to MVA in February with pictures. Then our MVA students prepared some MVA trivia and pop culture trends in the U.S. Our students answered questions from the audience. It was great to have performances from all three countries. Our students made dumplings for dinner and said good-bye to Handan No. 2 High School. Before leaving, we were asked for our contact information, and received hugs, handshakes, and parting gifts. Our students presented the hosts with gifts before receiving their Certificates of Completion for the Cultural Exchange program. 
To complete the visit, we visited the Xiantang Mountain Grottoes in the mining district of Fengfeng. These grottoes date back more than 1,500 years. We made our own pottery and visited an old pottery factory that is now a market that features some very inexpensive pottery wares. We also visited the ancient city of Guangfu, which is more than 2,000 years old, traversed a bridge that was 1,700 years old, and saw a fossil that was estimated to have dated back 4.5 million years. A stop to the Handan Museum gave us a peek into the city’s history, as well as a visit to Congtai Park that  was vibrant and filled with natural beauty. We enjoyed watching a group of older couples who were participating in swing dancing class, a couple taking traditional marriage ceremony photos, and a group of adults were tossing a hacky sack around.
It was an amazing and memorable trip for all of us.