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Grand School Visits RI

September 27, 2018

Students from China and America shared their culture, language and a few good laughs through a short cultural exchange this week when the Qingdao Grand International School from Qingdao, China, visited Saint Raphael Academy for a few days. A K-10 international school, the Grand School entered into an agreement with the Academy to send its students to SRA to continue their education as juniors and seniors. SRA expects to enroll 15 students in the 2019-2020 academic year who will become part of the Classes and 2020 and 2021.

A contingent of about 20 students and school administrators arrived at Saints on Sunday, as part of a two-week tour of the United States.

Grand School students were paired with SRA ambassadors and attended classes with them to experience a typical American high school day. Later, both Grand School students and SRA ambassadors toured Providence College and Brown University.

Afterschool activities are a large part of American high school culture. Smiles and laughter transcended language barriers as the Grand students learned a short dance with the dance team, practiced drumming with the drumline, painted with the art club, and played basketball, badminton and table tennis in Alumni Hall.

Over the four-day visit, Grand School students were also treated to typical American meals, including barbecue, ice cream sundaes, hot dogs and hamburgers, and a full breakfast.
International exchange is a significant part of the agreement between the two schools. In late April, Erika Paiva ’00, health and physical education teacher, became an SRA ambassador to the Grand School and spent two months teaching there while being immersed in Chinese culture. (Read her blog to follow her experiences there!)

On the last day of the Grand School trip, International Program Liasion Linda Michalczyk read a proclamation from Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien to Lilly Zhang, vice principal of Qingdao Grand International School. As is typical in Chinese culture, gifts were exchanged before the Grand School departed. Principal Dan Richard presented Ms. Zhang with a plaque commemorating the two schools’ agreement, and Ms. Zhang presented Mr. Richard with a tea set and a Chinese zodiac stamp set. To their surprise, SRA ambassadors received gifts from the Chinese students as well. Many Academy students remarked that it had been a unique experience for them.