SIS News Archive
I arrived in Shenzhen at the end of July. This move covered a couple of firsts for me – first time in China and first time working and living in a city so close to the sea. My first school abroad was in Tashkent, Uzbekistan – one of only two double-landlocked countries in the world. I learned to enjoy trips on beautiful desert and hilly terrain. My last school was in Bangkok, Thailand – very close to nice beaches, but we didn't go out to the sea for school trips as much as I thought we would. When I learned that SIS does a beach retreat with a very simple agenda of getting to know each other and having fun, I was instantly excited. I am a California native with roots in the Philippines, so swimming and the beach are some of my favorite activities. Moreover, I was eager to see the SIS middle school community in action. The trip proved to be a great way for me to get to know my students and colleagues in a fun, engaging way.
As an international school counselor one of the key attributes I look for in schools is their sense of community. How do the students and teachers build positive relationships? How do we utilize those relationships to enhance learning? How do we take care of each other? How does the community celebrate? The beach retreat is just one of a few examples of the positive community vibe I have experienced in the last few weeks at Bayside. On any given day leading up to the beach retreat, I'd walk down the hallways and see students with their faculty advisors working on chants or designing their t-shirts/flags for the beach retreat. Everybody was excited and eager to share their talent. Advisors and I worked together to clarify the agenda and how we would oversee our students' safety. The feeling of excitement and anticipation spread throughout the middle school hallway.
En route to Xichong Beach the busses were a buzz with laughter and talk of what they wanted to do on the beach. We jumped off the busses and advisors quickly sorted out their advisory groups to perform their chants. In the middle school, the chants are not a contest, but a showcase of spirit and students/teachers cheered each group on. As a newcomer, it was awesome to see the love students' have for their element and the creativity put into their chants. This energy carried into lunch and finally – beach time!
The only concern I had about the beach were the factors we could not control – rip tides, strong waves, and students not paying close enough attention to what's happening around them. These concerns were quickly dispelled by the faculty working together as a team to oversee the beach line and water and the students respecting our instructions. I appreciated that besides the chants, taking pictures with their flags, and lunch - we did not have a lot of planned activities. This gave us more time to enjoy the beach together. Despite the clouds and some rain showers, we had a pretty clear time in the water.
I arrived back in Shenzhen, tired, but fulfilled. I know that this trip is the first of many wonderful experiences with the SIS Bayside community.