Upper left: Former Emerson students Drew Miller and Sam Goodman, along with teacher Kate Mantenieks, take a boat ride with their pen pals on West Lake, in Hangzhou, China. Lower left: Westerville students Drew Miller, Laine Miller, Josh Miller, and Grahm Casey patriciate with their pen pals in a calligraphy class taught by a master calligrapher. Right: Emerson students, families and staff members are pictured with their pen pals and their families outside the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
An extraordinary cultural exchange took place this summer when a number of Emerson Elementary Magnet School students and their families, along with staff, traveled more than 14,000 miles roundtrip to visit their pen pals in Hangzhou, China. Most of the 37 people from Westerville, including 12 Emerson pupils and 6 siblings, stayed with Chinese host families and all were immersed in the Chinese culture and way of life for two weeks.
During the summer of 2017, Emerson hosted a two-week summer camp for their pen pals from Hangzhou. The visiting Chinese students and families stayed with Emerson host families and learned about the American culture and our community.
In China, the Emerson students participated in a five-day camp with their pen pals. Youngsters learned about Chinese foods and visited a local farmer’s market to purchase items for their dinner, and one afternoon studied with a master Chinese calligrapher. Pupils explored the beautiful and famous West Lake historical area and took boat rides. While the children were at camp, parents attended their own day camp. Parent activates included visiting a local fishery and catching their own lunch; visiting a tea plantation, Lingyin Temple, Leifeng Pagoda; and boating on West Lake.
During the second week, all of the Emerson visitors, along with some Chinese families, traveled together via high-speed trains. They explored Historic Beijing, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square. In Xi’an, they saw the fascinating Terracotta Warriors.
Emerson looks forward to continuing the friendship and learning experiences with their Chinese pen pals as they plan another combined summer camp in Westerville for summer 2019, and a return trip to China in summer 2020.