Dwight Global Leaders Reflect on Their Inaugural Exchange Program in China

"Shadowing students around Qibao Dwight High School for just two days has taught me more about the culture of youth in China than I could have ever learned from a textbook."

"Shadowing students around Qibao Dwight High School for just two days has taught me more about the culture of youth in China than I could have ever learned from a textbook. I have been fortunate enough not only to have the chance to follow them around, but to be able to connect with them as if I had known them for at least a few months." – Maxwell Feiner


On just the second day in Shanghai, ninth grader Maxwell said it better than we could: There is no substitute for experience ... no substitute for learning by doing. Dwight's commitment to educating the next generation of global leaders is brought to life a number of ways — through the International Baccalaureate curriculum, through our diverse community of faculty and students hailing from over 40 countries, through our culture of global-mindedness — but perhaps nowhere as immediately and profoundly as it does through exchange programs with Dwight campuses that span three continents.

This year, Dwight was delighted to extend its long-standing tradition of exchanges for fifth graders with our campus in London by launching one for ninth graders with Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School: the first independent Chinese-foreign collaborative high school approved by the Ministry of Education in China. This innovative boarding school for students in grades 10-12 combines the IB and Chinese curricula, blending the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions into one.

Some of the ninth graders, who traveled with their Dean and Asian Civilizations teacher, Thomas Stabb; and Science Teacher Roberta Harnett, had met Dwight students from Shanghai in February, when they performed together in our global concert at Carnegie Hall. It was great for them to reconnect so soon thereafter; for others, new friendships were quickly forged during the trip. Together, they stayed in dorms, attended classes, and shared their cultural traditions both formally through performances at assemblies and informally through bonding as teenagers.

Dwight students visited Old Water Town, Ling Yin Temple and Green Tree Plantation, the Shanghai Museum and Urban Planning Exhibition, marketplaces, restaurants, and so much more. They were on the go non-stop, beginning with early-morning exercises that are part of the daily routine of students in Shanghai. Stepping into their shoes, students from New York reflected on the eye-opening experience and what they learned. Here is a sampling of their posts:

"Over the course of this trip, I was given the chance to meet many Dwight Qibao students and to shadow them throughout their school day. I found this aspect of the trip to be the most interesting, fun, and enriching. When I first met them, I was so amazed to see how much I could connect with them over school classes/life and just about being a student in general. I also discovered, after talking to them for a while, that they are interested in the same movies, music, and books as I am, which is really cool being that they live in a different country with a completely different culture. Other times, I bonded with the students were at the zoo and playing sports with them, which was really fun. I think that I learned the most from meeting the students because I really learned about Chinese culture while finding the ways that our lives are different." – Damini Kohli


"From New York to Shanghai, what a difference there is. Before I came to China, I didn't really realize what I had been missing out on....

I was awed by the beautiful sights and interesting culture... I believe that going with a group of friends to China for my first time opened up my mind to trying different things... The places we got to see were so wonderful and I got to learn so much." – Regina Castellanos Matus


"Before the trip I wasn't sure what to expect of Shanghai. I had heard it was a cultural hub, where a myriad of varied schools of thought, ethnicities, and religious groups coexisted. This description of the city made me realize that in many ways Shanghai is similar to New York. This city proved to be an extremely culturally rich one, with delightful and varied cuisines, and museums with incredible artifacts and artwork... Staying at Dwight Qibao was also very interesting because we got to experience and learn about the Chinese student's lifestyle...Now I can successfully describe Shanghai to people. Shanghai has the same fast-pace, big-city vibe that New York does but like New York, it's very versatile in every sense.... It was a very eye-opening and educational trip; by far my favorite school trip!" – Anika Jeyaranjan


As hoped, students returned to campus with new perspectives, expanded world views, and enriched by the experiences they shared in Shanghai. And as hoped, they came home with one thing more: "I made a lot of friends whom I hope to keep in touch with. I now am looking forward to Carnegie next year because I know I will see many Qibao students that I met in the last ten days!" – Damini Kohli

Click here for more reflections on our blog, including one from Mr. Stabb, and check out our album from this wonderful journey to Shanghai!



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