16 Students Travel to China, Connect with International Students and Alumni
16 Students Travel to China, Connect with International Students and Alumni

In June, 16 Upper School students, along with chaperones Bob Clark, director of religious life and Upper School Humanities teacher, and Dr. Rosanne Simeone, Upper School Humanities teacher, traveled across the globe to explore China for 11 days.

Traveling to Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai, highlights from the trip included visits to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, Shanghai skyline, and Masters of Nets Garden in Suzhou. The group also enjoyed bus karaoke, shopping, trying new cuisines, lots of walking, and bonding with classmates across grades.

"We are very excited to expand our global travel and engagement program, and to provide our students the opportunity to travel the world at young ages," said Beth Miller, associate head of school for academics. "We look forward to future travel and exchange programs to further our international connectivity and footprint."

Perhaps the greatest opportunity, however, was spending time with Chinese classmates living abroad. Ken Wang '21 greeted the group on arrival in Beijing and stayed with them through much of the itinerary, while Johnson Zhou '18 and Jerry Yao '18 joined for their day trip to Wuzhen. In all, more than 50 additional current students and alumni, including many families, connected with the visiting students.

"The trip provided the students a window into understanding the culture of their Chinese classmates and an increased respect for what is would be like to travel across the globe to attend school in a different language. The world is both really big and very small," said Clark.

Students also participated in three events with current students, families, and alumni: a Peking duck dinner in Beijing, a beautiful house party in Shanghai hosted by Wei Hopeman '88, and a large banquet including numerous alumni as well as incoming freshman and their parents also in Shanghai. Students also learned more about a newly established Asia Pacific Innovation Center (APIC) from founders Changdong (East) He '12 and Suikai (Forest) Lin '13. This alumni-led, independent center aims to provide resources for global students and alumni alike.

"From Dulles, after more than twelve hours of flight time, St. Anne's-Belfield School students arrived to a continent with more than four billion people living, working, and thriving in the contexts of globalization and technological and social innovations," said He, who also serves on the School's Board of Trustees. "With the establishment of the APIC, we hope our community will have a more permanent base from which to explore these communities and circumstances, for both academic and personal development ends."

Funding for the trip was partially provided through philanthropic gifts by Liankung and Xena Wang, parents of Ken Wang '21, along with Yuanran Zheng, father of Yimo '17 and Benny '24.