During the months of June and July 2014, HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS) sponsored a group of 35 adults and children to attend a summer program in China conceived and organized by the school. As Sharon Huang, Founder of HWIS, notes, “It is one thing to learn about the Chinese language and culture in an immersion environment in the United States. But it is quite another experience to be using this knowledge every day and everywhere in China.”

The program consisted of a long weekend at the start in Beijing, to see some important historical sites there like the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Zoo and the Forbidden City and to allow the children and families to adjust to China. Then the entire group was flown to Shanghai to attend a two week Summer Camp at the renowned Y.K. Pao Bilingual school. At the school the children’s daily activities were conducted in Mandarin, centered around various themes and included Language Arts, Chinese culture, Math, Drama, Music and PE. Field trips to nearby sites were also part of the curriculum.

During some of the nights and on each weekend, the parents were reunited with their children and enjoyed various group dinners highlighting different types of Chinese cuisine as well as enjoying visits to see Chinese acrobats, a silk factory and a trip to Suzhou. The parents had free time during the week which was used to see various other sites in Shanghai of more interest to adults with our tour guide and private bus. One stop, in particular, was very popular: Shanghai’s silk market. It seemed that almost every adult in the group took advantage of great prices to buy new handmade suits and shirts! In addition, the parents explored the city on their own and came to appreciate the diversity and cosmopolitan nature of this large, vibrant city.

Finally, the school offered an optional excursion at the end of the Shanghai summer camp: to visit the ancient capital of Xi’an and see the world famous terra-cotta warriors. Xi’an with is impressive city wall and history is well worth a visit but the archaeological site outside the city, housing the thousands of terra-cotta warriors is truly a site to behold! Built to look after the emperor in the afterlife, thousands of these warrior statues have been unearthed each with an individualized face!

According to Bill Hicks, HWIS representative on the trip, “I feel that the families really got immersed in China’s culture and history. I noticed several children, who had been hesitant to speak Chinese in class before, really open up after being in China for a few days. Being surrounded by this rich history and cultural legacy, in Mandarin, I think really helped them embrace the language.”