RFH ChinaRFH staff and students recently welcomed visitors from Hanzhou Entel Foreign Language School in Hanzhou, China. Pictured from left to right are RFH Chinese Teacher Matthew Yang, RFH Supervisor of World Languages, Visual and Performing Arts, Business, and ESL Michel Salazar, Hanzhou Entel English Teacher Hu Yeubo, RFH Chinese Teacher Rebecca Wang, and Hanzhou Entel Chinese Teacher and Vice Principal Zheng Minfeng.

Press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

Teachers Hu Yuebo and Zheng Minfeng recently had an unusually long commute to school. They traveled from Hanzhou, China for a week-long visit to Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

While at RFH the two observed lessons, interacted with students and teachers, enjoyed dinners in their honor, participated in a bowling event, and even ate lunch in the RFH cafeteria.

“The chicken fingers were highly recommended by the students,” said Yuebo, who teaches English at Hanzhou Entel Foreign Language School, where Minfeng teaches Chinese and is the Vice Principal.

But this visit was about a lot more than chicken fingers. It represented a big step forward for the Study Abroad Program at RFH, which received its official approval by the RFH School Board at a meeting on November 12.

The inaugural study abroad trip for the new language immersion-based program, which took root at the high school in 2007, is planned for April 9-21, 2014.  That is when eleven RFH students will travel with two chaperones to the Hanzhou Entel Foreign Language School in Hanzhou, China.

RFH China BowlEnjoying a bowling event organized by the RFH Chinese National Honor Society and International Club are, clockwise from top left, Zheng Minfeng, Carly Green, Leigh Mueller, Madison Bess, Riley Cushing, Lauren Mueller, Max Nitto, International Club Advisor Yannell Maglione, Hu Yuebo, Chinese National Honor Society Advisor Rebecca Wang, Eleanor Belluscio, and Kyle Kennedy.

The RFH students will live on campus at the residential high school and spend their weekends with nearby “buddy” families. In addition to studying the Chinese language and attending culturally-related classes, the group plans to visit cultural sites including the city of Shanghai.

RFH Principal Tracy Handerhan joined Michel Salazar, Supervisor of World Languages, Visual and Performing Arts, Business and ESL for a visit to Hanzhou Entel this past summer. There they observed classes and met with the school’s faculty in preparation for their students’ planned April excursion to RFH’s “sister” school in China.

Similarly, the recent visit by teachers Yuebo and Minfeng took place in anticipation of their students’ planned trip to their “sister” school, RFH. The students from China will be staying with host families during their study abroad experience, which is slated for October 2014.

As part of the Study Abroad Program, RFH has also established “sister” schools in Canada and Guatemala, and trips are planned to those destinations as well.

The initiative for the Study Abroad Program began in 2007 when RFH Superintendent Peter Righi attended a Chinese Bridge Program sponsored by College Board and hosted by Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters in Hanban, China.

The program is designed to provide a framework for building a bridge between language programs in the U.S. and China through school visits, cultural activities, and educational workshops.

“When Dr. Righi returned and I began in my position, he asked me to create a Chinese language program at RFH,” said Salazar. “What started out as a part-time endeavor has now blossomed into a popular and successful program.”

Rebecca Wang, who began as a part-time instructor at the inception of the Chinese Language Program, now teaches at RFH full-time. Matthew Yang has joined the program as part-time instructor.

In addition to spearheading the Chinese Language program at RFH, Salazar also traveled to attend the Chinese Bridge Delegation.

During the course of visits there in 2008 and 2012, she was successful in creating a partnership with the Hanzhou Entel Foreign Language School, where English is taught to Chinese students.

The students participating in the Study Abroad Program’s upcoming trip to Hanzhou were selected based on an assessment of their proficiency in the language. They were also required to submit an essay written in Chinese explaining why they should be considered to participate in the Study Abroad trip. The students also needed to answer “off the cuff” questions from selection committee members about the trip.

The selection committee was comprised of Righi, Handerhan, Salazar, Wang, and Yang. The students will be traveling with Righi and Wang as chaperones.

The students planning to take part in the inaugural Study Abroad Program trip to China are Eleanor Belluscio, Willis Manelski, Thomas Martello, Caroline Mindnich, Leigh Mueller, Maxwell Nitto, Peter Righi, Elise Roncace, Brigid Shutsky, Stefani Sciametta, and Payton Wall.

A group of RFH students will also be visiting Guatemala and Quebec during the coming months to immerse themselves in the Spanish and French languages and cultures.

Five chaperones will accompany 22 students who will be traveling to Antigua, Guatemala in June 2014 to study at Maximo Nive! high school. In addition to learning more about the language and culture, the students will also work as volunteers at a nearby coffee plantation in order to deepen their understanding of the region.

Accompanied by two chaperones, eight RFH students will visit Quebec City and study at L’ecole du monde on July 7-15, 2014.

In addition to Salazar and  Righi, RFH Supervisor of Special Services Carol Krsyzckowski also attended the Chinese Bridge Delegation. Acceptance to the Delegation is offered through Advanced Placement (AP) Central and requires an application and review process.