A Day at School
Trip Start Oct 15, 2007
15Trip End Nov 04, 2007
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The school boasts some of Beijing's top teachers and a state of the art campus with multi media classrooms, modern sports facilities, a performing arts center, laboratories and dormitories for over 1000 students.
The school is also made world famous by the Golden Sail Symphony and Orchestra of the Beijing 101 Middle School. The over 160 members aged 12-17 rehearse and perform very difficult pieces in their spare time. They have traveled throughout the world and recently placed first among 34 participants at a competition in Vienna Austria. A DVD and CD of that performance were provided to each of us as a gift at the opening ceremonies.
The morning highlight for me was listening to the Vice President of the Education Council for Planning and Policy in China. He spoke of the great strides the Chinese have made in their educational system in the past 10-15 years. Just as recently as the 1980's, only 48% of Chinese were receiving complete primary education. That number has now increased to 95% and the countries illiteracy rate has been reduced to 4%. From 1998 to 2005, the number of students in China increased by two times and in the past 5 years, the infrastructure has grown two times more than the combined prior 50 years!
They are also very proud that it took China only 10 years to create a fully developed educational system where it took the Koreans fifteen years and their population is 30 million less than the Chinese! I think the VP was getting a dig into Korea!
China now struggles with education officials seeking additional funding so that they can make the teaching profession more honorable. They also struggle with getting education to the very poor rural sections of Western China and with providing a quality information technology infrastructure to all.
The students spent the day getting to know each other and in workshops discussing what it means to be a global leader and some of the critical issues the world will be facing in the next 20 years. Much of the work was in preparation for the next day's United Nations program.
Between programs, I spent some time walking the campus and watching a track and field meet that the school was hosting. Lastly, we were treated to an exclusive performance by the Golden Sail Symphony. They opened their concert with a resounding rendition of the Olympic theme. Maybe because we are in the Olympic City and we see so many reminders of the upcoming games, it caused the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It was very exhilarating! We enjoyed a few more numbers and then thanked them with a heartfelt standing ovation.
Our long day ended with a one hour bus ride, to go only 5-6 miles, so that we could attend the Peking Opera. The Peking Opera was very interesting. It basically consisted of 4 acts. The first two were stories acted out by very ornately dressed Chinese and the last two with the same except for the addition of amazing acrobatic feats. Words are difficult to describe it so hopefully the pictures will help.
Tommorrow we truly go global as we spend our morning at the UN and the afternoon at the Olympics!