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PBDA China Partnership 2019: Back to School in Hong Kong
Posted on: March 12, 2019
Monday, March 11, 7:27 p.m.
Our first weekday off, and we used it to… go to school! Sure, we were mostly observers at Alliance Primary School, Kowloon Tong, but our Bulldogs were right there in the thick of it. So as not to overwhelm any one teacher, our students split up into different small groups with their Alliance friends to get first-hand experience on life as a student there. Whether practicing 3-D design in information technologies class, doing some serious running in gym, starting their own engravings in visual arts, or singing for their new-found choir friends, our kids were getting an education on education in Hong Kong. In the meantime, chaperones got to poke our heads into a few classrooms, as well. While it would be nice to call our visits inconspicuous, the truth is, there is no way for six adults—much less adults from far away—to subtly observe a class of 35 pre-kindergarten students. But both students and teacher always found a quick route back to the task at hand. As one of our students later put it, the commitment teachers showed to both their students and their subjects was perhaps one of the most obvious traits of the school.
In addition to the classroom, we got to watch them embody that commitment in the school’s Facebook Live Alliance School Teleshow Marathon, as well. Check out a sneak peek below and on our Facebook group. The general consensus among our groups was for the magicians. And the PBDA cameo near the end.
Our school day culminated in the band room for a practice/performance of the school orchestra, not words that normally inspire enthusiasm, but the commitment to musical training at this and—as we found out from our tour guide—other area schools is at least as important to the life of the school as any athletic team. We discovered this commitment in the most powerful way imaginable: a 60+ orchestra of middle school students (topping out at sixth grade) working through what might have easily been mistaken for a professional rehearsal of the first movement of Brahms’s First Symphony. Check out a video here.
With a visit like this one on the itinerary, teachers can start to worry that they will need to twist arms and make dire exhortations just to get the students to talk to each other any more than is absolutely necessary, but the ease with which these young ones—both gracious hosts and curious guests—took quick and meaningful interest in each other built just a little hope in the future of humanity, not to sound too smarmy or saccharine.
After saying goodbye to our new friends a quick stop by the hotel so we could freshen up and change out of our school clothes, our bus carried us up the winding road to the top of Victoria’s Peak (552 meters above sea level) for the most spectacular view of Hong Kong. Following dinner at the world-renowned Jumbo Floating Restaurant (yes, it really is a giant boat), the plan had been to walk around a night market on the wharf, but everyone was pretty wiped out, so it was back to the hotel for a dip in the pool or chilling out in the room before bed. Boy, school can take it out of you.