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MSDA Student Trip to China

一路平安
Yīlù píng’ān
And they’re off for China! MSDA sophomores Victoria, Elena and Louise, with Dean of Academics, Dr. Marissa Muoio ’08, embark on their journey to Beijing. Safe and enjoyable journey Mounties!

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Day 1 in Beijing is in the books! Today, MSDA & SHP students visited the iconic heart of Beijing: The Forbidden City. Built in the 15th century, the imperial palace was at the center of Chinese politics for hundreds of years. During their time spent touring today, students also visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden Garden, the Temple of Heaven and Pearl Market! Tomorrow the Mounties will conquer the Great Wall. Stay tuned!  北京天安門廣場

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And that’s a wrap for a memorable second day in Beijing as the MSDA/SHP group trekked to the Great Wall. They visited the Mutianyu section of the wall, built during the early years of the Ming Dynasty and best known for its incredible views! The group took chairlifts up to the top of the wall and after trekking a few miles, journeyed down via toboggan. After their visit to the wall, they learned to create a well-known craft in Hutong culture called, “Hairy Monsters.” Later, they finished the day with a walking tour of Hutong Architecture.

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The MSDA/SHP China tour spent their final day in Beijing attending the US-China Youth Forum on Global Education sponsored by Alpha Partners Education at Keystone Academy. Both teachers and students participated in meaningful conversations with their peers and colleagues across the US and China regarding global education and the development of cultural competency. After the conclusion of the summit, the group spent the afternoon exploring the 798 Arts District of Beijing. The district is made up of former military factories now housing hip creative spaces and awesome coffee shops. Next up, the flight to Chongqing where the students will meet and stay with their host families!

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After landing in Chongqing late yesterday evening and meeting their host families, the MSDA/SHP China tour group celebrated Easter Sunday mass this morning at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Chongqing. It was a wonderful opportunity for our students to share their faith with their host families. We wish everyone back home a very blessed Easter!

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After mass in the heart of the city yesterday, Mount students explored the beautiful city of Chongqing with their host families. Today, students spent the day at the High School Affiliated to Southwest University, where they attended a few academic classes with their partners in the morning and then participated in a Chinese painting class. After lunch, the group learned about the martial art of Wushu from a sixth generation Wushu Master. They ended the day with “English Corner” where students from the host school had the opportunity to stop by and chat with the MSDA/SHP group to practice their English!


Here are a few fun facts about the High School Affiliated to Southwest University: 1) It is home to 6,000 students ranging grades 7-12 and 400 teachers. 2) Class sizes average 60 students! 3) There are no laptops – only books. 4) Lunch is two hours in length and it is common for students to nap or take a rest during this time. 5) The school day is typically from 7:30/8am – 5pm. However, for students who attend evening class or are studying for their final exam in grade twelve, the day may range from 7:30/8am-10:30 pm!

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Yesterday, across the world in Chongqing, the MSDA/SHP China tour group visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wulong. First, the group stopped at Fairy Mountain National Forest Park which has a reputation as the “Oriental Switzerland.” Students took in the beauty and even fed some of the goats! Next, the students made the trek through National Three Bridges region of Wulong Karst, home to over 1,000 species of plants and over 80% of its land is covered in forests. It is the largest natural bridge group in the world! Scenes from “Curse of the Golden Flower”, “Transformers 4”, and “Once Upon a Time” have all been filmed here.

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On their final day in Chongqing, the MSDA/SHP China tour group explored an ancient town of Chengdu and visited the Dazu Rock Carvings. They are cliffside rock carvings within the Dazu district. The carvings are made up of five clusters dating from the 9th through the 13th century. They not only show the harmonious combination of three different religions in China at once (Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism) but also shed light on everyday life. After the carvings, the group gathered together for a beautiful Chinese dinner banquet with their host families which featured Chongqing’s famous “hot pot” cuisine. We would like to thank Alpha Exchange, The High-school Affiliated to Southwest University and our host families for treating us with such warm and welcoming hospitality. Our time has been truly memorable in China, but we look forward to sharing what we have learned when we get back to Jersey!

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