Recently Mr Milburn, Assistant Head teacher, Miss Lisle, Art teacher, and 9 students from Harrogate Grammar School visited Hangzhou in China to take part in the 60th anniversary celebrations of Wenlan Middle School, a school Harrogate Grammar School (HGS) has had a long and successful partnership with over many years.
After nearly 24 hours of travel, involving 2 bus trips, 1 train journey and 2 international flights, the group from HGS arrived at Wenlan school to be greeted with the full red carpet treatment, the VIP status would last all week! The first full day in the school began with an opening ceremony for the anniversary celebrations. Held in the school’s sports stadium they were treated to a show involving all the students of the school showcasing the talents, values, traditions and culture of the hosts. This included performances from the Peking Opera, a Kung Fu display as well as some street dance.
Harrogate Grammar School were then invited to take part in the school’s Sports Day the following morning. Sport, no matter where you are in the world, is a universal language. The competitive but inclusive spirit was obvious for all to see and whilst the hosts were keen to compete alongside HGS students, they certainly didn’t want to lose! HGS students continued the success of Team GB at the Rio Olympics and by the end of the day were proudly wearing many medals having won a number of the Track and Field events. Feeling a sense of confidence in their athletic prowess they decided to bring some British culture to the event and challenged the students from Wenlan School to Tug of War, a decision later regretted when they were comprehensively beaten!
The rest of the week gave HGS students the chance to meet their peers from the school, experience their lessons as well as forge some new friendships. They were invited to take part in many lessons including history, art and PE.
They witnessed the organisation of the Chinese students break time which involved the entire school taking part in mass exercise which was fascinating to watch! Some of the HGS students delivered an English lesson on Brexit which the Chinese students were fascinated by.
Mr Milburn was asked to speak at a conference of school leaders from around the world. The conference followed the themes discussed at the recent G20, which Hangzhou hosted in September. In talking about innovation, culture and tradition he was able to share the recently revised HGS school values of Respect, Excellence, Adventure, Commitment and Honesty.
It was also a great opportunity to meet with other school leaders, find out more about the educational experiences of students in other parts of the world as well as discuss other possibilities to bring schools from around the world closer together.
The group were also treated to a performance on the West Lake which had been created especially for the G20 leaders. This magnificent show was not only an expression of Chinese cultural but the innovation and creativity China takes great pride in.
The week of celebrations ended with an equally impressive closing ceremony in the nearby University. Performances, presentations and speeches were shared with an esteemed audience of local political dignitaries, members of the armed forces, school leaders from around the world as well parents and families. In this final part of their time with the school they were all able to really reflect on what they had seen in the week, the friendships that had been made and the experiences they would share back home.
Before the long journey back to Harrogate the final day was spent in Shanghai. Despite being caught in a monsoon they were able to see some sights, including the Bund and Pearl Tower, as well as doing some last minute souvenir shopping.
As the group gathered together to board the flight home they were all sad to leave behind the generous hosts, the friends made and the unforgettable experiences but heartened by the knowledge they had some great travel tales to share with friends and families.