Asian Studies Outreach Program
Royals Travel Overseas
ASOP recognizes South Royalton School for its commitment to learning about China
- By Jacqueline Drouin
Schools in Vermont have been making giant steps to bring the world into the classroom by developing school-wide programs that place an emphasis on learning about a different culture. In the Spring of 2010, principal Shaun Pickett traveled to China with the Asian Studies Outreach Program’s SASEL program and observed schools in various cities in China. Since then, in addition to hosting Visiting Scholars from China and having dragon puppet celebrations at South Royalton, the school is now looking at student exchanges to China. The 2011-2012 academic year marks the inaugural Royal China Exchange at South Royalton School, a program designed to foster awareness and an open dialogue between Chinese and American students.
"We truly did not know what to expect, so we prepared ourselves before the adventure by learning about Chinese history and unique facts about modern China." wrote Sarah Caron in her reflection on the exchange. Sarah was one of three students from South Royalton School that traveled to China with Claire Epchook, a teacher from South Royalton School. While in China, the students attended a high school in Tai’an where the Vermont students were able to teach English classes.
“In contrast to small Vermont schools, typical Chinese high schools have thousands of students,” wrote Sarah. “We were all struck by the academic rigor and self discipline of the students.”
The three students and teacher all learned much about the culture and the school system, and gained a new appreciation for life in the United States. “Traveling to China gave me new appreciation for things I often take for granted- clean water, paper, and time.” Claire Epchook commented on her experience in China. For these three students, they are already looking forward to their next travel adventure and looks at the Royal China exchange as a wonderful opportunity.
Other staff have also had the opportunity to travel to China. In the summer of 2011, Izzy Provoncha, teacher at South Royalton, traveled to China with ASOP's Institute on China and Its Cultures. Through the program, Izzy visited three cities and created a teaching unit on China.
“We hope that the Royal China exchange becomes an annual experience so that future South Royalton students can have such a distinct look into Chinese culture, and we hope Chinese students are also allowed to travel here.”
Read Sarah Cohen's reflection on her travels to China in her article, SoRo Students Travel to China.