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Oropi School principal, Andrew King, explains how the intercultural strategy at Oropi School involves the implementation of meaningful, cross-cultural initiatives.

The Hangzhou Sister School Partnership Project

The Hangzhou Sister School Partnership Project was facilitated through the school’s involvement with the the Centres of Asia–Pacific Excellence (CAPEs). This project has opened our eyes to new ways of working, and has had a significant impact on learning and teaching. This project saw e-buddies established with classes of students in China, Korea, and India. All students participate in Mandarin and Korean learning, and they have also been involved in local humanitarian projects, and an International Ambassadors programme.

A wide shot of students in a NZ classroom connecting via zoom with their peers in a Korean classroom

Learners at Oropi school connect online with their peers in South Korea (June 2021)

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

We were excited to engage in project-based learning and inquiry with students from a school in China. We questioned how we could best develop a connection where our students could gain insights into our topics of study from students who are studying similar subjects on the other side of the world. Talk about embracing and valuing different perspectives and new ideas!

Jaimee Donaldson and Andrew King participating in a tea ceremony in Hangzhou with other sister school teachers and principals

Jaimee Donaldson and Andrew King participating in a tea ceremony in Hangzhou with other sister school teachers and principals

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

How we got started

Our aim was to expand our knowledge and understandings through this cross-cultural connection. Initially, there were the usual formalities where our schools were introduced to one another. An essential next step was to show, explain, and highlight the features of our school and our localised curriculum. We then identified points of difference, and reasons for wanting to connect.  

During our first in-person visit to Hangzhou, we showcased aspects of our curriculum. For example, at Oropi School we have a play-based curriculum, forest learning opportunities, and a Garden to Table programme. Our children use these contexts to collaborate on projects, inquiries, and passion projects that are based on interest.  During this first visit to Hangzhou, we shared how we could gain insights from students in our sister school about gardening, cooking, environmental sustainability and the sorts of play that Chinese students value and are involved in. Our intent was to develop and enhance our own understanding in these curriculum areas.

Teacher and principals sitting at a tea ceremony table

Jaimee Donaldson and Andrew King presenting information about Oropi School to the CAPEs Hangzhou Sister School Partnership Programme participants in Hangzhou, China (2018)

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

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. We were able to ask students and teachers at our sister school questions such as: what sorts of produce should we grow to cook Chinese recipes? What conditions do these plants need and how do we grow them?

Global citizenship education at Oropi School takes place inside and outside the classroom

Global citizenship education at Oropi School takes place inside and outside the classroom

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

Planning for future learning

As we grow this project, the opportunities become endless. We could share recipes, have an online cooking show, and 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.

Another ‘next step’ for teachers will be sharing their knowledge of teaching literacy, numeracy, and language learning (namely English and Mandarin) with each other.

Classroom wall with a banner saying 'Mandarin' and examples of student work

Learning languages enables young people to understand the role that language plays in shaping our world

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

Provocations

What opportunities do cross-cultural partnerships provide schools and their communities to build global connections?

How could you move from superficial engagement in sister school partnerships to deeper and more meaningful connections?

Useful links

Read about Oropi School’s intercultural strategy development in this article.

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