Students and faculty visit Farragut’s dual diploma schools in China

Heather Ewing, Matt Hajek, Zach Fine, and Rob Ewing

For one week two faculty members, Rob Ewing, the Aviation Director, and Heather Ewing, the Upper School English teacher, along with senior students, Zach Fine and Matt Hajek, travelled to China with Justin Poupart, Admiral Farragut Academy’s Managing Director – China Region for the Dual Diploma Program.

It was the first time that students from Admiral Farragut Academy visited the dual diploma partner schools in China.

“This was a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship between our schools,” said Poupart who has been coordinating the program since 2015. “It gave students at our partner schools the opportunity to learn directly from our Florida teachers and students.”

Matt Hajek, Zach Fine, and Justin Poupart

The group visited partner schools in Tianjin called “AFA Tianjin”, considered Farragut’s flagship campus, and a school in Shanghai called “Shanghai New Epoch Bilingual School”.  At each school, Mr. Ewing did a two-day aviation workshop while Mrs. Ewing did poetry workshops. Matt and Zach participated as teaching assistants and in cultural exchange activities like calligraphy and Chinese chess.

“Being a teacher’s assistant was interesting because of the language barrier,” said Zach who is currently in AP Chinese at Farragut and has taken Chinese since 6th grade. “During our visit we got a lot of questions about teen life and college life in America.”

Matt who completed Chinese IV and is close to earning his private pilot’s license through the Aviation program, helped explain the fundamentals of flight and helped make model airplanes with the students. “We spoke and explained everything in English, and so did the teachers at the schools,” said Matt. “They said it’s how they immerse the students in the language. Some of the students had also already attended Summer@Farragut.”

During their time in Tianjin, Matt and Zach each experienced a day in the life by staying at a student’s home and attending school with them. “Their parents didn’t speak any English so Robert (Zach’s student) and Tony (Matt’s student) had to help translate,” said Matt. “We enjoyed staying with them and we keep in touch using WeChat and play online chess.”

While in Shanghai, they stayed in the school’s dormitories. “One whole floor was for dormitories and it was four beds per room; the rooms were really nice,” said Zach.

Although this was a first visit for Matt and Zach, this was a second for the Ewings who attended a trip in 2015. “It was a good trip overall,” said Mr. Ewing. “We spent most of our time working with the students and it’s a fun experience. It was great for our students to join us because they were exposed to the similarities and differences of education in another country. Any type of travel gives you new perspective.”

While in China, the group also visited Jing An Temple in Shanghai and The Forbidden City in Beijing.

Mrs. and Mr. Ewing

“Thanks to all four for donating their Spring Break time to visit our partner schools,” said Poupart. “They have left a lasting impression on both schools and have created great memories for not only the students in China, but for themselves too.”