Saturday, October 23, 2010

School Visit

School Visit on Thursday, Oct. 21…Hangzhou Foreign Language School

This school was built 7 years ago in only 14 months. It is a government run boarding school with an emphasis on a foreign language. There are 3500 students here in grades 7-12. It is one of the top schools in the area with only 1 of every 100 elementary students getting in. The lower grades pay a lesser fee than grades 10 – 12. At the end of their 10th grade year they make a  choice between the science and math area or history and social studies area. Graduating from this school eliminates them from taking the tough entrance exam for entrance into the local universities. This was the deal the government made with the colleges.

How about this for a school day!! Breakfast is around 7:15 am and classes start @ 7:40 am and run till noon. Much like in the US school system (about the only similar item) the lunch program runs the school. The Jr. High kids eat @ 11:30 and the Sr. High around noon. They have about an 1 ½ hour lunch break and then back to classes till 5:00 pm..Supper is served and then back to study areas from 6:20 to 8:40 for Jr. High and till 9:20 for High School..Lights out @ 10:00 pm for the Sr. High kids, a bit earlier for the younger ones. Sports or clubs take place in the late afternoon. There is no competition between other schools as it would cut into study time. Basketball is big here among the students as a sport and they like the NBA, especially the Lakers. We told them the Lakers were originally from Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, and city of Minneapolis, the city of Lakes.

The campus would be a large version of St. Olaf or Gustavus. The mulit-storied ( a 3 story cafeteria) buildings have marble stairways with stainless steel handrails, no carpet here. The huge gym would rival the Target Center and many outdoor basketball courts ring the campus. Expansive walkways, and landscaping is set around ponds, shrubs and trees. The architecture is creative the library looming over a huge granite football like courtyard.

20% of these kids go onto Universities all over the world without having to take the college exams. There were lists of the student’s names with the college acceptances next to their names. One had 9 schools.. from the Big Ten, California, Ivy League to schools in Europe. About 40-50% go onto colleges in China with vo-tech schools being an option. This is a brain factory. They want to be here and I am sure the principal deals with few discipline problems. The director said “If a kid came home from school @ 3:00 pm., he /she would be shot by the parents.” Education here is big time and I feel the game is over. China wins.

I talked to a student for about 15 minutes and within 12 hours he had emailed me. He was interested in the most fantastic sport in the US, who was the most famous American author and had I been to a NBA game. I gave him my answers and told him I’d take him a game if he came to America. My bet is he will be over, these kids are driven..Fun to see this.

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