We have all heard of Chinese students coming to the USA for high school or college, but students from Peregrine School in Davis are one step ahead.  From July 22 through August 6, 2017, students and their families from a Chinese Immersion preschool program for 3-5 year olds took on the job of ambassadors, traveling to Yunnan China, under the tutelage of their intrepid teacher, Che Yi.  

 

What does a preschool field trip to China look like?  Thirteen children and family members traveled by plane, bullet train, subway, and van until they reached the Linden Center, in a remote mountainous part of Yunnan China.  There they joined a group of fifteen Chinese children and family members to experience a week of cultural and linguistic exchange.  

 

Families listen to Brian Linden tell them about the Linden Center

 

The Linden Center is an international exchange center which immerses Chinese or foreign visitors in the life of rural China.   American and Chinese families slept and ate in the center together while experiencing a variety of “field trips” in Xizhou, an historic village beside Lake Er’Hai.  Chinese families were as eager to expose their children to English as the American families were to expose theirs to Chinese.   Che Yi cleverly challenged children to speak each other’s language, dividing the day into Chinese and English speaking parts.  

 

“Before I went to China, I thought China was a city full of toys,” said Finley, a four year old traveler.  In some ways he was not far off.  One of the things we all noticed was that preschoolers turn the whole world into a playground.  While visiting a mountain temple with innumerable stairs, the children discovered that they could make the railings into slides, copying children through the ages who enjoy the banisters wherever they are.  

 

Perhaps it is the spirit of play which makes preschoolers such good ambassadors!  Even when there was no common language, the spirit of adventure united the children on the Panda’s trip, making the exchange meaningful for families from East and West.  

 

How are parents and teachers affected?

 

Peregrine’s international programs, which carry students, families, and teachers to different parts of the world, are part of our spirit of life-long learning.  For the teachers involved, part of the enrichment was to visit Chinese preschools and talk to Chinese teachers about their work.  Lorie, Ashley, and Yi visited two preschools, one in Kunming, where Yi was involved in a research project ten years ago, and one in Shanghai.  Teachers came back from their vacations to meet with us.