Darien High School’s unique China Exchange program has faced a turbulent last few years, and the coronavirus might just be the end of the long standing tradition. Last year, the class’ trip to China was cancelled in light of the virus. This year, with travel restrictions still in place, the class did not happen. Still, everyone wishes to continue our relationship with the Shanghai girls #3 and Qingdao #58 schools, whose students have visited and formed friendships with DHS students, which is why a club might be the best solution to the hole in our school’s identity.
As a way to continue our communications, a new club here at DHS has been proposed to build our knowledge of China. The club will welcome all DHS students, which creates more opportunity than the China Exchange class, which students had to apply and be selected for. The class has always tried to involve and share with the rest of the Darien community, but this way the door is really open to anyone.
One activity that the Shanghai #3 girls school suggested is sending small vlogs or videos about American culture, and they would send the same about Chinese culture. The first video we plan to exchange is about holidays in China and the United States.
History teacher Ms. Jen Murphy, the adviser for the club and past teacher for the class, wants to make sure this is a student-led project. The club can really take whatever direction it wants, which is what makes it so special. The China Exchange program has always been a very unique opportunity for DHS students to live in another country with a family as well as host students and teachers from China. Another great thing about the club is that it is a bit less involved than the class was, which makes it easier for students to add to their plates.
Junior Vivy Rooney, who was part of China Exchange last year, says, “we were all really disappointed not to be able to go on the trip last year. I think this club is a great way to stay in touch with the girls we hosted in the Fall.”
I was part of the China Exchange group last year, and the cancellation of the trip was one of the biggest things I felt like I missed out on because of Covid-19. As much as we all understood why it was impossible to go, I think we finished the year in a weird way with quick modifications to the curriculum. It may have marked the end of a long tradition at DHS, but we still appreciate all the experiences we gained from hosting and learning throughout the year. We are excited about this club because it is a way to extend the class into a new year and see new faces explore China with us. We highly recommend joining the club and encourage anyone who may have interest to reach out!