St. Martin's Episcopal School Students And Teachers Traveled To China As Part Of International Student Program

(Left to Right) – Tour guide, Rivers Singley, Stephen Richards, Jules France, Stm Instructor Mary Bond, Max Gremillion, StM Instructor Al Tritico, Enzo Marcello, Kyle Winkler, StM Head of Middle School Jenny Velasquez, Christopher Hyman, Grayson Doyle, StM Director of International Program Jennifer Wang.

NEW ORLEANS — St. Martin’s Episcopal School announced its successful two-week international trip to China. Members of the International Student Program traveled to five Chinese cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Hangzhou to expose students to an authentic global education. This was St. Martin’s inaugural trip with both teachers and students to its sister school Yanzhou High School.

         Students in the program stayed with host families for the duration of the trip, all of whom had a son also enrolled at Yanzhou High School. This opportunity allowed the students to continue their studies of the Chinese culture outside of the classroom. Though language barriers existed amongst the participants and their families, the students said that they were impressed by the host families’ abilities to communicate and to make each member feel welcome to the area.

         “I was impressed with the ways in which St. Martin’s students responded in new and potentially intimidating settings, especially when language was such an issue,” said Jenny Valesquez, Middle School Division Head. “The boys remained open to all new experiences and embraced each one wholeheartedly.”

         St. Martin’s teachers were also immersed into the Chinese culture. English teacher, Al Tritico, was asked to teach vocabulary to students of Yanzhou High School in Hangzhou. Though this feat was unplanned, Tritico excelled by incorporating New Orleans’ history into his lesson. As an example, Tritico used Hurricane Katrina to describe the vocabulary word ‘catastrophe’ and incorporated images of the storm and its projected path to exemplify the vocabulary word ‘trend.’ St. Martin’s students assisted Tritico with the lesson and were able to add a level of comfortability to the classroom without overstepping the cultural expectation that the teacher remain formal at all times. St. Martin’s students also participated in classes that introduced them to elements of Chinese culture, such as tea ceremonies, ink and wash painting, and opera.

         “At St. Martin’s we stress the importance of exposing each of our students to global education,” said Head of School Merry Sorrells. “The more our school community experienced China, the more we understood why it is so important to gain insight into the perspective and history of others, and how this international perspective will prepare our students to move more seamlessly and thoughtfully in an increasingly connected world.”

         St. Martin’s reps said they recognize the increasingly large role that cross-cultural understanding plays in each student’s success. Currently, nine youth from China are full-time students at St. Martin’s Episcopal School. In the 2016-17 school year, it is anticipated that 15 students from China will attend. In order to better provide for their international students, St. Martin’s has introduced a course entitled, “English for International Students: American Literature.” In addition, St. Martin’s has created new faculty positions: ESL Department Chair and ESL Support Member. The goal is to embrace the courage that each international student displays by moving to another country in high school and helping them to thrive. The International Student Program plans to make its trip to China an annual event.

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