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One of the hallmark features of the CAIS curriculum is a robust series of international programs in Taiwan and mainland China. Far more than simple tourist trips, these programs offer remarkable immersion experiential learning opportunities, and enable students to engage with Chinese society, cultures, and communities in profound and meaningful ways.
We currently offer three international programs at the Middle School level: the 7th Grade Beijing Academy, the 8th Grade Experiential Learning Adventure, and the inbound Sanfan Summer English Camp, a hosting opportunity open to families of all grades. As part of a sequence of international programming that begins in the 5th grade, these programs both complement and build on each other. Through these programs, which have been developed specifically by and for CAIS, students apply their language proficiency to function in authentic contexts, develop cross-cultural understanding through active engagement with new people and environments, and build confidence, independence, and responsibility.
International Programs are a unique signature of CAIS, and have become an essential piece of the CAIS experience. Brief introductions to each program can be found in the program descriptions to the left.
Each year in early spring, CAIS fifth graders have the opportunity to live and study for two weeks in Taipei, Taiwan at the Ren-ai Municipal Elementary School, living in the homes of same-age peers from Ren-ai. Later in the spring the Ren-ai students make a return visit and live with their CAIS peers.
In seventh grade, as an integral part of our Chinese curriculum, all students take part in CAIS-SYA Beijing Academy, a collaborative partnership between CAIS, School Year Abroad and the Beijing Normal University Sanfan Middle School. This three-week program is fully funded through the school’s operating budget. Each morning students attend intensive Chinese language classes taught by SYA instructors at the Sanfan Middle School. Afternoons and weekends are filled with experiential learning activities and the families of same-age peers from the host school.
In eighth grade, our students have the opportunity to participate in a two-week experiential learning adventure to areas of China that are off the beaten track. This year’s program will take place in Qinghai and Gansu provinces, on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in northwestern China. The primary objective of the two-week program is for the students to develop deeper understanding and appreciation of life in rural areas of China and of the diverse people of these regions, and of the social, political, cultural and natural environments in which they live. The trip includes experiential cultural and language activities, service learning, independent explorations, rural homestays, and rough travel. Students immerse themselves in rural communities, living among the local people while engaging in a variety of projects including teaching, farming and herding tasks, traditional arts, and more.
In the summer, we host middle school students from China in our CAIS China inbound program. Chinese students study and learn alongside CAIS middle school students and graduates who serve as program volunteers. The program features engaging, activity based teaching strategies that encourage students to apply practical English to real life situations in an English only environment. The Chinese students live with CAIS host families during their two-and-a-half week stay.
“Read ten thousand books travel ten thousand miles”
CAIS expresses the wisdom of this proverb through a focus on experiential learning, connecting studies with the rich educational opportunities outside of the classroom. This truth resonated so strongly with Head of School Jeff Bissell that he had it tattooed on his forearm.