fei_lai_fengStudents from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School students immersed themselves in the culture and language of China, during a recent visit to Hanzhou Entel Foreign Language School.

Press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

Eleven students from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School recently traveled to Hanzhou Entel Foreign Language School in China, as part of the RFH Study Abroad Initiative. The students participating in the visit to Hanzhou Entel were Eleanor Belluscio, Willis Manelski, Thomas Martello, Caroline Mindnich, Leigh Mueller, Maxwell Nitto, Peter Righi Jr., Elise Roncace, Brigid Schutsky, Stefani Sciametta, and Payton Wall. Chinese teacher Rebecca Wang and Superintendent Peter Righi acted as chaperones.

The trip — the first of its kind — took place from April 9 to 21, and marked an important first step toward building a bridge between language programs at RFH and those in China.

While at Hanzhou Entel, a private residential school that is RFH’s “sister school” in China, the students lived on campus and spent their weekend with nearby host families (also known as “buddy families”).

tai_jiIn addition to studying the Chinese language and attending classes, the group visited cultural sites that included the city of Shanghai.

“We had so much fun in Shanghai,”  said RFH senior Brigid Schutsky of the three day visit to the city. “And the best part was that the vendors at the market were very impressed with our Chinese language skills.”

From Shanghai, the students arrived at Hanzhou Entel for a full week of classroom study.

“When it was time for class discussions, the RFH students presented in Chinese and the Hanzhou Entel students presented in English,” said RFH Chinese Teacher Rebecca Wang.

“We received a very warm welcome and found that the Chinese students were actually very similar to us,” said RFH sophomore Willis Manelski. “Once we became acclimated, Hanzhou Entel seemed a lot like RFH.”

“We slept on wooden pallets, which was interesting,” said RFH junior Leigh Muller.”One of the Hanzhou Entel students was fascinated by the sleeping bag I had brought on the trip, and I ended up giving it to him.”

The RFH students also experienced the Chinese culture by participating in calligraphy and paper cutting classes, visiting a Buddhist temple, and enjoying live music.

As part of the planning process, RFH Principal Tracy Handerhan joined RFH Supervisor of World Languages Michel Salazar for a visit to Hanzhou Entel in the summer of 2013. There they observed classes and met with the school’s faculty and administration. Similarly, Hanzhou Entel teachers Hu Yuebo and Zheng Minfeng visited RFH in November 2013 in anticipation of a visit by a group of their students, which is slated for October 2014.

Yearly excursions to China are planned by the RFH Study Abroad Program, and students who participated in the inaugural trip — many of whom are still in touch with the Hanzhou Entel students thanks to an app called “WeChat” — are planning to return someday as well.