After three days in Beijing our group is on the high speed train (averaging 302 km/h) to Shanghai. The train ride alone has been an eye opener—cranes are everywhere as China’s emerging middle class seeks housing in more urban environments. We had productive meetings in Beijing with our sister school, The Beijing Experimental High School Attached to Beijing Normal University (we shorten the name to BES). We have partnered with BES to help them develop their international program—an internal program in their public school that has a percentage of their 3000 students study to attend American colleges. The success of their program has been stunning and they seem appreciative of our efforts to help make their students more well rounded. They have expanded community service, students clubs, leadership opportunities, and athletic offerings as a result of our collaboration. They have sponsored numerous visits from our faculty over the last five years and hope to host many more student and faculty groups in the future. They are hoping to send student performers to Dublin this coming winter and have invited our students to spend two weeks in their school in the future.
Peter, Carl and I were humbled by their generosity and enjoyed our three dinners with them. We leave Beijing with a greater appreciation of their culture and the stunning transformation taking place there. I stayed up very late last night watching the USA play Germany in the World Cup with a friend of our host Peter Peng. He was an eyewitness to the student protests in both Beijing and Shanghai in 1989 and gave some great insights into that historic movement. In between dinners our entourage visited a primary school where we watched 2000 students perform their daily exercises in unison, walked through the Forbidden City, took bikes through the historic old alleys of Beijing, and climbed the Great Wall in the rain. We were hosted by the family of a soon to be freshmen girl at Dublin and also spent time with recent graduate Shutong Luo.
I am excited to see Shanghai for the first time in my life this afternoon. We are meeting with parents and touring the city before heading to Seoul for a reception with our current and past families.