Shaoxing is a major city on the southern edge of the great Yangtze River. Its population of 640,000 equals that of the entire state of Vermont. For the past year Lyndon Institute has worked with the Shaoxing Number 1 School Branch School to offer a dual diploma program for a select group of students.
The students take classes in English from teachers selected by LI, using a curriculum that matches what is taught in Lyndonville. On July 27 students from that school came to Lyndonville for classes and for an introduction to life in New England and the Northeast Kingdom. It was their first visit to the United States and their first trip outside China.
English teacher Adrienne D'Olimpio had met the students in Shaoxing on a trip early in June. "I really enjoyed seeing them in their Shaoxing classroom and getting to know them a little. I tried to learn all their names, and then worked with them in the computer lab. They had to start working on their U.S. history homework! It was pretty fun to be able to say, 'See you in a few weeks back in Vermont.'"
The students and their five chaperones were on campus for five days taking ESL (English as a Second Language) courses and American history.
Nikki Vendituoli taught the U.S. history course. "The students came with little background on United States history," she said, "so the week was full of discoveries and new learning. Our theme was: 'What does it mean to be an American? What is the American dream?' This gave us a concrete focus to bring all of our conversations and activities back to and allowed students to make progress in both English and social studies." Terha Steen was the third LI teacher for the summer school.
In addition to time in the classroom, the student and their chaperones got to sample Vermont. They went kayaking on Lake Willoughby, ran a ropes course at the Coutts-Moriarty Camp in Derby and took a ride on the Ethan Allen II out of Burlington. The group also visited the Middlebury College and Dartmouth College campuses and sampled the joys of Carmen's Ice Cream with members of the LI Student Council. They ended their visit to the United States with sightseeing visits to Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.