RFH Students Visit “Sister School” in Hanzhou, China

June 6th, 2014



RFH Students Visit “Sister School” in Hanzhou for

Unforgettable Experience With Chinese Language and Culture

RFH students immersed themselves in the culture and language of China during a recent visit to Hanzhou Entel Foreign Language School.

Rumson — Eleven Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School students accompanied by two chaperones recently traveled to Hanzhou Entel Foreign Language School in China as part of the RFH Study Abroad Initiative.

The trip — the first of its kind — took place from April 9-21 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 called “buddy families”.

In addition to studying the Chinese language and attending classes, the group visited cultural sites including the city of Shanghai.

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

The trip began with a three-day visit to Shanghai, after which 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.

The student groups found that they had a lot in common in addition to their language skills.

“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.

RFH Supervisor of World Languages Michel Salazar felt that careful planning and preparation as well as support from the school community were instrumental to the success of the inaugural trip to China.

“I am very grateful to the Board of Education for supporting this trip, which has been in the works since I was asked by Dr. Righi to spearhead the initiative back in 2008,” she said. RFH Superintendent Peter Righi had attended a Chinese Bridge Program sponsored by College Board in 2007, which spurred the initiative for the student trip to China.

As part of the planning process, RFH Principal Tracy Handerhan joined 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.

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.

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.

“This trip made me think about where I would like to visit when I travel abroad in college, and now I can say that I would definitely aim for China,” said Manelski.


Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Public Relations

mkampfe@rumsonfairhaven.org or 908-347-8885

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