The Canton of Neuchatel gave four high school students the opportunity to spend 6 weeks in Shanghai. They arrived on August 29, 2016 to start their adventure in China. Every morning during weekdays, they attended to Chinese lessons to improve their language skills. During the afternoons and weekends, they had time to discover Shanghai and its surroundings.
To learn more about the Chinese culture, Ophelie, Celestin, Mona and Eissa stayed in host families. They really enjoy this experience. Eissa said: “The best way to understand Chinese culture is to live with local people. I personally have learned a lot by living in a Chinese family”. The host parents had taken care of the Neuchatelois like they were their own kids. As an example, Celestin’s host father wanted to lose weight and invited him to swim and do some work out together.
The students went to Hutong School which is a private Chinese school in Beijing and Shanghai. They have learned many different topics such as ordering food or drinks in a restaurant, means of transport, bargaining in shops and other daily life conversations.
After school they discovered Shanghai in many different ways. They went to museums, towers, walked around districts or visited companies. They also had time to write an essay for High School. Therefore, they interviewed people of specific fields.
During the 4th week, the students went for six days to Beijing. They had a guide and a driver to go from sight to sight without losing time and to get as much information as possible. Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City were only two of the highlights. The students and their guide rented a bicycle to cycle across the old district of Beijing. They also did Tai Chi training and of course they did not miss the Great Wall of China and the sacred way. Moreover, they visited some temples and the Olympic Village. The four young students had an immense pleasure in Beijing. This city is extremely different form Shanghai and they enjoyed the atmosphere very much. Ophelie repeated many times that Beijing was so cool!
The experience of Ophelie, Celestin, Mona and Eissa in Shanghai were awesome! They have totally changed their mind about China. Once, Celestin mentioned: “If I can give you one advice, it’s just don’t listen to people who have never been there. Just come and discover the country and its amazing culture.” They have learned a lot by living in a Chinese family and with other same-age teenagers. According to Mona, the Chinese people are very open minded even if they have a lack of awareness about our European countries. The students also tried many different Chinese dishes even when they looked unfamiliar. At the end of the trip the students told me that they would stay in Shanghai even longer if the school in Neuchatel had not started yet.
Now back in Switzerland, the high school students keep handsome memories of this experience in their mind and hope to come back to China soon.
- Contributed by Emilie Roemer, Junior Project Leader @ swissnex China