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Westford heads to the Great Wall

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The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Great Wall of China

Natasha Singh, Print Manager

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The Class of 2017 embarked on a variety of Senior Capstone projects in April. Students had the option to explore careers, conduct projects, or provide services to their community. Many students aimed to work locally, whether it was in convenience or comfort. However seniors Alexis Rogers, Alex Kinnane, Michaela Ann-forty, and Mayble Wong are embarking on a journey to opposite side of the world to China, or Zhongguo, for their capstone project.

The group left on April 10th and returned on May 20th.

They spent their first few weeks in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, where they toured the Mount Qingcheng. After Chengdu, they moved towards Lijiang, an iconic town in the south of China. Ultimately, they spent their final week in Hong Kong.

Their project revolves around service to the Chinese community, therefore taught English to those around them. Mainly, this is a population that ranges from villagers to students to hotel employees.

The group was inspired by Nick Regan, a Westford Academy alumni who launched the capstone project last year.

“We just assumed we should also do [this Capstone Project] because it seemed interesting. It was a great opportunity for Nick, and it sounded like something we would love,” Kinnane said.

They also accredit Mandarin teacher Xue Li, who provided personal contacts in China to reduce their overall fare.

“[There are people] that are providing for us while we’re in China because of Ms. Li. [It’s] cheaper, and people are funding for our room and board and we’re working in exchange to pay them off  [for their hospitality] by working in schools and hotels and hospitals,” Ann-forty said.

The group was ensured they would not have too much trouble in comprehension, especially with their Hong Kong native, Mayble Wong, accompanying them.

Ann-forty has been on a trip to China before as well, a trip led by Mandarin teacher Neil Yeung. She describes one of her prized memories being at a bustling market in Beijing.

“I remember just, exploring everything there. Like, going to [counterfeit brand] markets and eating street food and just, I miss the shopping culture. It’s all about bargaining and the salespeople were all so aggressive, but it was honestly so fun. I can’t wait to get back into that,” Ann-forty said.

Each member described his or her interest in Mandarin as a path not many tread upon.

“I wanted something different, because every school offers Spanish, French, and German. I thought, why not take Mandarin?” Kinnane said.

There is a lack of exposure to the language in the middle schools, which generates a smaller pool of interested students for the class. The group described that as an unfortunate circumstance, which is why there is not an Advanced Placement level class for those truly interested.

The group is excited to begin their journey to China, and they hope more students  will be interested in emulating their trip in the future.

“I encourage other people to push yourself and travel outside your boundaries, especially Westford and, this is a great transition to college, because you’re put in a new place and forced to adjust yourself,” Anne-forty said.

 

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Westford heads to the Great Wall