Chinese students display their work in one of Prep's art rooms

Photo courtesy of Vicki King

Prep’s Chinese sister school brings students to campus

From Issue 7

March 1, 2019

From Saturday, February 9 to Thursday, February 14, Jackson Prep welcomed to campus a contingent of 17 students and 2 chaperones from its sister school, the Taizhou School in China. During their time here, they were able to experience a wide range of activities, both on and off school grounds.

Prior to the visit of the international students, Prep Head of School Mr. Lawrence Coco, along with faculty members Mr. Denny Britt and Ms. Jane Zhu, visited China to tour the Taizhou School and meet with its students and faculty. The visit took place in late October of 2018, and established a sister school relationship allowing for visits by students from both respective schools.

Anna Reagan Mask (right) shows a visitor around campus. Photo by Allie Wise

Upon arrival into Jackson on Saturday evening, the students were greeted at the airport by their host families and a giant “Welcome!” banner signed by various members of the Prep Family. Sunday, the students spent much of the day resting from the long journey and spending time with their host families, closing out the day with a dinner at Cock of the Walk.

On Monday, the students finally arrived on the Prep campus. Here, each of the 17 students were paired with a Jackson Prep Student Ambassador, who guided them during their time at the school. Notable activities of the day included a tour of the school given by the Jackson Prep Pathfinders, going to class with their paired Ambassador, and working with pottery with Dr. Luke Nealey. That evening, the group was able to attend a junior high baseball game, something none of them had ever experienced before. 

Tuesday brought another day of exciting experiences for the international students. The morning’s events were personal favorites for each of the students, as they were able to work with virtual reality at the Jackson Prep XR Lab and visit the Patriot Shop to purchase mementos that would always remind them of Prep and their journey. In the afternoon, they had the option to visit a classroom of their choice, participating in activities such as making chocolate roads in Ms. Beth Watts’s ancient cultures class. The day concluded with a visit to Fannin Lanes to bowl with each other and with their host families, yet another opportunity the students had never experienced previously.

On their final day on campus, the visiting students were administered the Jackson Prep entrance exam, determining whether they were eligible for admission as full time Prep students in the fall. After testing, the students were able to take part in archery with coach Jimmy Nix and team building activities with Col. William Merrell from the Global Leadership Institute (GLI). Once the school day ended, Prep held a send off party on campus, and the students returned home with their host families to prepare for their departure the following morning.

Finally, on Thursday morning, the Taizhou School students and chaperones bade farewell to the Prep Family and the Jackson metropolitan area. From there, they traveled to California, where they stopped in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, polishing off a trip of new insights and memories to take back with them to China.

“I feel that everybody enjoyed this outstanding cultural immersion. I also saw leaders come out of students as they were leading the visiting students through the school, something very exciting to see.” ”

— Ms. Zhu

Ms. Jane Zhu, Director of the Jackson Prep International Program, had much to say about the visit from the Taizhou School. “It was a life changing experience for them,” she said. “In Mississippi, we have a rich history. If you really want to know America, this is the place you want to come.” With regards to what the group thought of the school itself, Ms. Zhu said, “They [the students] said the environment here is very relaxing and more fun. Many said they would commend their friends to come to Prep.”

Ms. Vicki King, Director of Events and Partnerships at Prep as well as coordinator of host families for the International Program, also commented on the sister school’s visit. “They really enjoyed their visit. They were very shy in the beginning, but later on they really felt a part of things.” She also said, “The faculty, staff, and students were extremely welcoming and made them all feel at home.”

Prep students welcome the Chinese students at the airport.

As to how the visit from the Taizhou School furthers the mission of the International Program, Ms. Zhu quoted the program’s mission statement. “The Jackson Prep International Program’s vision is to build a more diverse and externally connected student body, to increase leadership opportunities, and to create a culturally immersive environment.” She went on to say, “I feel that everybody enjoyed this outstanding cultural immersion. I also saw leaders come out of students as they were leading the visiting students through the school, something very exciting to see.”

Plans for other schools from around the world to visit Jackson Prep are also in the works. “We are hoping to expand the program after the sister school visit to other countries to bring more cultural immersion,” Ms. Zhu said.

Over spring break, Prep will bring its own contingent of students to the Taizhou School in China for a reciprocal sister school visit. Some of the activities on the agenda include a visit to Beijing, the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the visit to Taizhou that will last approximately three days. To close out the visit, they will travel to Shanghai and experience one of the most modern cities in the world. “It will be a great experience for our students,” said Ms. Zhu.

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