At Oropi School, our intercultural strategy involves implementing meaningful cross-cultural initiatives.
This includes setting up e-buddies with classes of students in China, Korea, and India; involving children in local humanitarian projects; Mandarin and Korean learning for all students; and an International Ambassadors programme.
The Hangzhou Sister School Partnership Project, facilitated through the school’s involvement with the the Centres of Asia- Pacific Excellence (CAPEs), has had a significant impact. This has opened our eyes to ways of working at a whole new level.
The Hangzhou Sister School Partnership Project
We were excited to foster an opportunity to engage with students from another school, in China, in project-based learning and inquiry. How authentic would it be to aim for a connection whereby our students could gain insights about our topics of study from students studying similar subjects on the other side of the world? Talk about embracing and valuing different perspectives, considering, and coming up with new ideas!
How we got started
Initially, there were the usual formalities whereby our schools were introduced to one another. An essential next step to this ‘traditional’ part of the process was to show, explain and highlight our school’s features, localised curriculum, points of difference, and reasons for wanting to connect to expand our own knowledge and understandings through a cross-cultural connection.
At Oropi School, we have a play-based curriculum, forest learning opportunities, and a Garden to Table programme. Our children use these contexts of learning to work in collaboration with one another on projects and inquiries based on interest, that lead into passion projects.
During our first in-person visit to Hangzhou, we showcased these aspects of our curriculum. Then we shared our thinking about gaining insights from students at our sister school about gardening, cooking, environmental sustainability and the sorts of play that Chinese students value and are involved in, to develop and enhance our own understandings in these curriculum areas.
How we’re developing the partnership
We used WeChat to continue to exchange information. One specific project was to develop a Chinese aspect to our Garden to Table programme.
What sorts of produce should we grow to cook Chinese recipes? What conditions do these plants need and how do we grow them? This is what we have been able to ask the students and teachers at our sister school.
Planning for future learning
As we grow this project, the opportunities could become endless. We could share recipes, have an online cooking show, and maybe upload videos. We could even do virtual taste testing, if there is such a thing?
We also want to set up groups of Oropi students to investigate the environmental sustainability of our gully. What knowledge do the Chinese students in our sister school have about tree planting for future sustainability?
As we develop our play-based curriculum at Oropi School, we could investigate the sorts of play Chinese students like to participate in during their spare time.
A further next step for the teachers on both sides will be sharing knowledge and examples of teaching and learning of literacy, numeracy, and language learning (namely English and Mandarin).
Find out more about why global citizenship education is an intentional part of teaching and learning at Oropi School from Principal Andrew King.