From dragons, lanterns and chopsticks to skyscrapers and technology
16th November 2015

Over the October Exeat, a group of Oundle School pupils who are studying Mandarin visited China, providing them with the opportunity to observe and experience both the traditional culture and the modern life of China - from dragons, lanterns and chopsticks to the many bright signs and shining lights, skyscrapers, shimmering smart phones and an everlasting rush hour!

The pupils spent the first five days of the trip in a primary school in Meishan, teaching English to pupils from Grade 1 to Grade 5.

Head of Chinese, Hua Yan commented, “The most interesting finding, according to all the Oundle participants, was that all the Chinese pupils were especially attentive and had an unbelievable memory to retain the English they were taught compared to Oundle pupils own when it came to retaining Chinese words.”

During the first week, pupils stayed with host families. Apart from offering their host buddies private English tuition in the evenings, they also attended workshops which included traditional Chinese calligraphy and paper cutting. In addition, the pupils had a few afternoons off to explore the city and its cultural with their host families.



What impressed the pupils most during their homestay was the generosity and kindness of their host families. After an emotional farewell with the host families, they headed for the skyscrapers and bright lights of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province, for the last four days of the trip which consisted of travelling and sightseeing. 

The first day there was spent visiting gardens and the Temple for Zhuge Liang, a strategist of Three Kingdom, and the Cottage of Du Fu, a Tang Dynasty poet. Pupils found ourselves in breath-taking forest type gardens where they walked through brooks and bamboos whilst taking in the scent of flowers, and hearing Chinese music in the distance. The evening ended with souvenir shopping at a traditional street market, and watching Sichuan Opera where the performers changed their face in a blink. 

The second day was spent enjoying private tours of two Chinese companies, exploring China’s business world and technology.

The last full day in Chengdu began with visiting a giant panda breeding base, and ended with shopping at the world’s biggest shopping mall, which also had two 5 star hotels and its own beach!

Pupil, George Garber (15) commented, "I can confidently say that with every-day that passed all the speaking around us began to become clear and towards the end of the week, I could understand longer and longer chunks of a sentence. The trip turned out to be so much more than just about learning the Chinese language though. It made me realise how diverse the world is. How amazing it is to see that a few time zones away and ten hours on a plane could lead you to a completely different world. The way of life, the culture and the social understanding are simply so different from ours."

Background Information on Oundle School

Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.

The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports MasterPlan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion which opened in April 2015 and new astroturfs due to be completed this year.  

There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11. 

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