Berkshire China Trip 2011

15 students and 2 faculty members from Berkshire School head to China March 1-9, 2011 for Pro Vita Week.
The highlight of our last full day in China had to be spending some time  at Tong Bai High School just outside of Shanghai.  The Chinese students  were gracious hosts and led us in some musical performances and games.   Everybody had fun and walked away with a few new friends.  We didn’t know what the Chinese school had planned for us, but our  kids did a great job getting up and explaining about life at Berkshire.   Matt Nelson ‘12 gave our introductory remarks and Olivia Morrow ‘12 spoke  about what student life is like at Berkshire.  Dillon Payne ‘11 was nice  enough to sing a musical number for everyone from her recent work in the  school musical, Little Shop of Horrors.  It was a proud moment for Mr.  Clough and me.  Our kids rose to the challenge of meeting this class of  Chinese students and participating in speaking and performing roles with  no time for preparation.Thank you to the students of Tong Bai High School for having us.  It was a rewarding experience for everyone.Other pictures from the day can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happygeniusheroes/sets/72157626098701707/with/5509124963/
— Evan Nielsen

The highlight of our last full day in China had to be spending some time at Tong Bai High School just outside of Shanghai.  The Chinese students were gracious hosts and led us in some musical performances and games.  Everybody had fun and walked away with a few new friends. 

We didn’t know what the Chinese school had planned for us, but our kids did a great job getting up and explaining about life at Berkshire.  Matt Nelson ‘12 gave our introductory remarks and Olivia Morrow ‘12 spoke about what student life is like at Berkshire.  Dillon Payne ‘11 was nice enough to sing a musical number for everyone from her recent work in the school musical, Little Shop of Horrors.  It was a proud moment for Mr. Clough and me.  Our kids rose to the challenge of meeting this class of Chinese students and participating in speaking and performing roles with no time for preparation.

Thank you to the students of Tong Bai High School for having us.  It was a rewarding experience for everyone.

Other pictures from the day can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happygeniusheroes/sets/72157626098701707/with/5509124963/

— Evan Nielsen

Links to photos/video of the Wild Goose Pagoda and biking

Today we visited the Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an.  This Buddhist Pagoda was first constructed in the seventh century.  The structure is leaning a little bit, but is still a very active and popular Buddhist place of worship.  Students learned about the religious cultural of China and how Buddhism arrived in China.  Some chose to light incense or candles for prayer.  As a group we left a prayer card wishing the Berkshire boys basketball team good luck in their playoff game today.  Take a look at the pictures/videos from the day to get a feel for the impressiveness of this structure that is almost 1400 years old.

I have uploaded a bunch of photos and video from today at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happygeniusheroes/sets/72157626080727997/with/5501315259/

After the pagoda we drove south to see the city wall that surrounded ancient Xi’an.  This wall was built in the 14th century and served as an interesting connection to Xi’an’s history.  One can be staring at the glassy 21st century financial high rises outside the ancient wall, while standing on the stone that protected the city some 600 years ago.
We rented bikes to explore the 9 miles of wall.  It was fun to get some physical activity as the sun started to peek out in Xi’an while getting an up close look at the city wall that Xi’an is so well known for.

— Evan Nielsen

Early flight to Xi’an today and we headed straight to see the terracotta warriors.  Unbelievable to learn about the work that went into creating this earthen army over 2000 years ago and to see the effort that it has taken to piece these warriors back together.  Neat that the museum is basically a roof over an active archaeological dig site.  More artifacts are being unearthed and restored all the time. 

A few pictures from the experience are attached.  Full album at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/happygeniusheroes/sets/72157626199866298/

To the Boys Basketball team before their Championship game today,

We wanted to let you know that the Berkshire Bears that are in China are thinking about your team and rooting you on from half way around the globe.  We visited the Big Wild Goose Pagoda today.  It’s a Buddhist pagoda and monastery built in the seventh century.  We made sure to leave a prayer card for you guys while we were there (see photos attached).

Best of luck in your game.  Go Bears!

We stopped by the Olympic Park today to visit some of the stadiums we had seen on TV during the 2008 Summer Olympics.  We saw the Water Cube (AKA National Aquatic Center) and we had the chance to go inside the Bird’s Nest (AKA National Stadium).  At both sites you got the sense that each would be an very impressive place to watch a sporting event. 

Craig pulled the group together for our best ‘Go Bears’ cheer.  It was a valiant effort but our group struggled to fill the 91,000 seat arena.

Friday March 4

This morning we drove about 50 Km outside of Beijing to visit the Juyong Pass section of the Great Wall.  It was nice to get out of the city traffic and into the mountains outside Beijing.  This section of the wall protected a pass through the mountains from Mongol invaders.  We hiked up a VERY steep section of the wall to the watchtowers that broke up the segments.  It was truly amazing to be standing on this monument of human determination and ingenuity.  I for one did not think I would ever be climbing the Great Wall.  As Ms. Xu mentioned to me in an email, there is a Chinese expression that you are not a hero until you visit the great wall.  Today we were all heroes.  It was awesome.

I saw a panda for the first time in my life today when we visited the Beijing Zoo.  Dillon educated me on the animals from her experiences studying at the Panda Base in Chengdu.  Very cool creatures.  Happy to finally say I’ve seen one in person.

More pictures from the day can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happygeniusheroes/sets/72157626068454119/with/5496288601/

— Mr. Nielsen

Link to today's photos

Busy day, but saw a lot of great stuff: Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong rickshaw tour, and the Temple of Heaven.  


China: Day 1

Our first day in Beijing was defined by tours of the Forbidden  City and Tiananmen Square.  Walking through the Forbidden City was like walking through history.  As we walked through the different gates towards the center of the city we were met by jaw-dropping ancient ruins around each corner.  Seeing the famous Tienanmen Square was something that I will never forget.  The  magnitude of the square was highlighted by the crimson red flag of the  People’s Republic of China, waving in the wind on every building.  

Day  one is in the books and we are all thirsty for more.  Who knows what  tomorrow will hold for our group when we visit the Great Wall?  
-John  Irving ‘11

China: Day 1

Our first day in Beijing was defined by tours of the Forbidden  City and Tiananmen Square.  Walking through the Forbidden City was like walking through history.  As we walked through the different gates towards the center of the city we were met by jaw-dropping ancient ruins around each corner.  Seeing the famous Tienanmen Square was something that I will never forget.  The magnitude of the square was highlighted by the crimson red flag of the People’s Republic of China, waving in the wind on every building.  

Day one is in the books and we are all thirsty for more.  Who knows what tomorrow will hold for our group when we visit the Great Wall?  

-John Irving ‘11