Our efforts to partner with a school in Shenzhen, China, have temporarily run aground on the shoals of international politics. Last January, we welcomed a group of Middle School students from Shenzhen for a two-week “winter camp” and had a marvelous time doing so. I reunited with many of them and their parents when I visited Shenzhen last March, and their enthusiasm for the Carlisle school community was infectious. In fact, our video chronicling the visit and word of mouth spread so quickly that seventy students wanted to come this winter! Of course, we can’t handle that many, so we asked them to reduce the group to 22 (still a stretch for us), and we began making plans.
Preparations came to a screeching halt a few weeks ago, when we learned that an entity of the Chinese government, which must approve all such school trips, had withdrawn permission for the Shenzhen students to travel this year. We will welcome two or three students from other localities in February, but we will not have the grand and glorious experience we had last winter.
My independent school colleagues here in the U.S. are preparing to entertain fewer applications from the Far East for school year 2018-19, as the current political climate has seemingly encouraged these students to seek English proficiency in other English-speaking countries, like Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. As our international contingent is critical to both our program and our budget, we are trying to stay ahead of the curve and expand our efforts to maintain our connections with the Far East.
To that end, next week I am traveling to visit with administrators at schools in Henan and Hunan provinces in central China, in hopes of establishing a partnership that could possibly bring their students to Carlisle and maybe send our curriculum to students across the Pacific. North Cross School has a similar arrangement with a Middle School in Shanghai, so these are not uncharted waters, but this is a project that would take time and resources to bring to fruition. We will keep you posted on our progress.
In the meantime, let’s hope that our efforts on behalf of children in all nations will make it easier for future generations of global citizens to work and play together.