By Alexis Stuckey
Legend faculty members, students, and Principal Corey Wise took an adventure over the Great Wall, through the Temple of Heaven, and around the Forbidden City of China to XinJin Experimental Middle School, a middle school in China.
Chinese teacher, Matthew Solak, chemistry teacher Jay Zimmerman, Jake Taylor, and a few other dedicated Chinese students ventured over a few borders to the middle school in order to absorb a little bit of the Chinese culture and leave a little bit of American culture behind.
“Several of us taught middle school Chinese kids at the sister school,” said Zimmerman, a full time chemistry teacher and part time Chinese student at Legend. “The most exciting thing for me was teaching Chinese students and forming strong bonds with those kids.”
Zimmerman also included that he finds the Chinese culture intriguing, which is a reason to keep returning to China for years to come.
But the Legend faculty and students weren’t just leaving knowledge, but also gaining some.
Junior Kylie Bernard remembers the memorization technique that she learned during her vacation.
“In school I was in a class with [senior] Blake Fogle and two students from Chaparral, and we had two Chinese teachers, one who didn’t speak any English. They made us learn and memorize these old Chinese poems and we had to recite them with perfect tones and we had to move our head around in a circle while we did. It was embarrassing.”
The Chinese middle school doesn’t operate very much like Legend. The school day lasts from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a two-hour lunch break and two-hour dinner break. The classrooms are also significantly more packed with an average of 40 to 50 students per classroom.
“The focus is the same: learning,” Zimmerman said.
The students also took a side-trip to Xi’an, which was the ancient capital of China, where they visited the Terracotta Soldiers, and rode bicycles around the eight-mile city wall, according to Solak.
The annual trip is open to a select group of Legend students and faculty members. In order to attend the trip to China, you must be in Chinese with a B or higher, and be a good student in all other courses, meaning no D’s. The eligibility for the trip is similar to that of Legend athletics.
“It is such and great trip and so important for my Chinese students and Legend,” said Solak, who believes “‘our legend’ is definitely crossing borders.”