My Other School in the USA
On the Baronoff Island in the USA, there is a peaceful place called “Sitka”. In Sitka you can see the beauty of the polar day and the polar night. During the polar night, northern lights can often be seen in the middle of the night. What a lucky thing it was for a child who grew up in the south to see the Northern lights.
In our school’s sister school, Mt. Edgecumbe High School (MEHS), we could choose courses to study. For the first semester I chose arts, marine biology, English 2 and reading. The next semester, I chose precalculus, field research, English 2, sea technology and Chinese.
For the marine biology, I learned most of the mammals in the ocean around Alaska, and for each mammal, we learned basic information first, and then we went to the ocean to find them, and brought them back to the laboratory for further research. Every time we hang out on the ocean to look for marine mammals, we had to do diving training to ensure our safety. We worked with our partners all the time, we always helped each other and prepared for the presentation when we have done the leaning.
We needed to finish reading a book in two weeks, taking notes and writing an essay about a project in a month to get credit. During the whole school year, I finished reading The Kite Runner, The Hot Zone, Fahrenheit 451, Adventures of Ulysses and the whole set of Harry Porter. English class, we sat around to discuss the details of the book and analyze author’s rhetorical devices. When we had done the book and the essay was finished , we would watch the movie adapted from the book. Then for the next class we would compare the details between the movie and the book.
For the second semester, we did nine experiments in field research and we went to the University of Alaska laboratory to do experiments with real scientists. In this class, we watched BBC documentaries every week, and then recorded a post to share with the students around us.
The sea technology course is actually a class that requires participation in scientific research. We judged the life habits and migration routes of marine organisms by listening to different kinds of audio in the ocean. In this class, I worked with my partner, Olin, to study the audio of the beluga in the Arctic Circle in the last ten years and to prepare an academic report in Santiago with a scientist, Josh John from the University of California.
I am very happy to have become a teacher tutor to help the Chinese teacher. At the Chinese festivals, Chinese teachers and I will prepare some traditional Chinese food to share with students in the Chinese classes. In the Chinese new year, we went to the biggest city in Alaska, Anchorage, visiting Confucius College there and the Asian Bible Church, which prepared the best Chinese new year for us. I spent a very meaningful time with my classmates, and I also spread the Chinese culture to foreign friends.
Christmas is the most important festival in the Western world. I stayed with a friendly host family. They were devout Christians who were duty bound to be my host family and let me experience a real Christmas. Every day, I would cook Chinese food to treat them. After dinner, they would kindly tell me a biblical story, so that I could know more about Christianity.
When visiting the church, I also got to know the exchange students from other countries, including students from Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Austria and Turkey. Every weekend we got together and went to watch movies and read books. Because their families have businesses with China, so we always discussed The Belt and Road Initiative. We learned each other’s languages and share the delicious food of our respective countries.
There were plenty of activities after school at MEHS, like canoeing, cooking, making clothes, watching stars, climbing, bungee jumping… It was precisely because of these activities that I made a lots of friends, and those friends made me truly realize the cultural differences and geographical differences of different countries.
I am very grateful to our school for giving this opportunity to me so that I was able to study in another country and see the outside world. I am sure that this life experience will change my trajectory. Go braves!
小镇上的人们也和天气一样时时都充满了活力。作为一个旅游小镇，一到旺季，从早上开始岸边就会出现各类观光游轮。这时很多镇上的人们都会到游轮上做介绍或者担任一日导游介绍人文风情。就像担任我们“家长”的寄宿家庭一样，Karen和Jere每年的这个时候都会在游轮里担任讲解员，跟着游轮一起向北直到温哥华完成人文旅行。这个镇上的教堂是一个人们比便利店还要频繁出现在内的建筑。重大节日时，大家都会聚集在教堂举行盛大的晚会，享受着节日的快乐。我们常常调侃这里是一个适合退休人群的大型疗养院。早上一边观赏着鲸群一边享用早餐，随时都能去屋子旁边森林里的小道上跑步锻炼（只是需要担心棕熊的出现）。晚上到剧院里欣赏芭蕾表演。周末时全家一起开着小艇到旁边小岛上的cabin里郊游野餐，冬天到Swan Lake拿上一杯热可可看着孩子们在湖上滑冰玩雪橇…… 镇上路过的每一个人都会笑着对你打招呼，在他们脸上你找不到一丝愁容。
Chilly. That was the first word that came to my mind when I got there. The wind was so strong that it always tried to cloud my eyes. “Looks different from what I heard of before I came here. The weather seems not that friendly?” I thought. But the sky “accidentally” turned clear the next day. Later, before leaving Sitka, people just told us the open secret: “That’s fine if you don’t like the weather now in Sitka ’cause it gonna change in the next 5 minutes.” Especially after you experienced a light rain, clear weather, rainbows and a heavy snow all in one afternoon, you will know the accuracy of the words.
People here are awesome. As a tourist town, a variety of sightseeing cruise ships will appear on the shore from the morning in the peak season. We stayed with the Christener family over Christmas. Karen and Jere are instructors at this time of year on the ships, traveling along with the cruise ships north to Vancouver to complete the cultural trip. The church is a building in which people show up more frequently than in the grocery store. On major festivals, people gather in the church to have a party and have fun during the evening. We always said that Sitka is actually a large nursing home for retirees: watching the whale group at breakfast in the morning, running on the trail in the forest near the house (you only need to worry about the brown bears) and enjoying the ballet performance at the theatre in the evening. Sometimes you can row a boat to the cabin with your family on weekends. In winter, it’s great to have a cup of cocoa while sitting on the Swan Lake, and watch the kids skating & sliding on the lake… I had only seen this casual life in movies.
As the main venue of my school year as an exchange student, MEHS is a place where people are always able tohave fun. High schools in the U.S just have only four classes per day (9:40 am to 4:00 pm ). The school and the airport are on Japonski Island which is a distance from downtown. Students usually need to cross a super long bridge to to down town, nearly 20 minutes on foot. In order not to get us bored, the administrators sent us weekly reaction calendars for us to pick from: mountain climbing, rowing, watching sunsets, bonfire and park outings are the most common activities. Everyone can join in the sports teams that interest them, and do training every day after school. After one or two months’ training, they will travel and attend games in other schools. We also have arts, music festivals, and DDF, which can manage long “business trips”. In order to make our experience more thorough, the school required us to pick English 2 and select whatever courses we like. That’s why we met a lot of good friends.
MEHS also has a sister school in Japan. It sent a team of exchange students this year for a week of communication. Unexpectedly, in the occasional church activity, we found that a nearby school, Sitka High, has a similar exchange program (Their exchange students are from Egypt, Austria, Pakistan, Turkey and Jordan). Perhaps because “exchange students know each other better”, we were closer to others, and had a bunch of fond memories.
What I appreciate most is the new family I stayed with over Christmas break. And they often used their cute ways to help us not to get homesick. Actually it’s so hard to write down all experiences in an essay, just like I can’t intactly express how nice the people there are. If you go to that beautiful town some day, please say “Hi” from me to those lovely people.