|Wuxi Yucai Middle School|
This morning we took the bullet train from Shanghai to Wuxi. The bullet train itself is an amazing experience- it travels at 185 miles per hour and is incredibly smooth! An educational consultant who does work with the Wuxi Yucai Middle School (grades 7-9) met us at the train station and took us to the beautiful Tai Lake Park to tour the Li Garden, which is about 300 years old. The stone in the garden and from the general area is known for its unique shape due to water erosion through the years. What struck me were the beautiful screens in the garden walls- each one was different.
After touring the garden we had lunch at a restaurant in the park. The food was displayed in a unique way but that was nothing compared to the food itself. Over the past week we have learned so much about Chinese cuisine, which is very regional in taste, type, and presentation. I am a very adventurous eater and feel lucky that I have gotten to try so many new things! Here is what we ate:
Turtle soup (shell included)
Crab with soy noodles
Poisonous river fish (becomes un-poisonous when cooked by a specially trained chef)
White river fish
Tripe (cow stomach)
Free range chicken (feet included)
Free range black pig meatballs
Chicken with pigs feet
Pork & potatoes
Roots and blue berry sauce
Veggie soup with dumpling
Pork & prawns
Hot soy milk
And it was all served on the biggest lazy Susan I have ever seen!
After lunch we visited the Wuxi Yucai Middle School. It is a very prestigious private school that was founded by the granddaughter of a high level government official. At first it was a public school. Then it was a privately run public school. Now it is a private school. In China, the distinction is mainly that you can use private funds to enhance your school and you are able to create a distinctive school environment, but there is little flexibility in terms of curriculum. In our discussions with school administrators and board members, we talked about pairing middle school students up with our schools to do joint projects over the Internet, maybe around environmental issues or other common concerns. They said that there is no flexibility in the curriculum for that and it would have to be done after school. It was interesting to learn that the schedule at this level is just as packed and rigid as it is at the upper school level. We did talk about how to make such a project work, and we also had interesting and fruitful discussions about many opportunities to work together, from student exchanges to the joint creation of online courses. As has been the case at the other schools, our hosts were very warm and gracious.