Half term trips to China, Africa, US and Europe

Alton College’s international relations were further strengthened over half term when a group of 17 students and three staff had a whistle stop tour of the People’s Republic of China.

Recently granted ‘Highly Trusted Status’ by UK Border Agency, Alton College will welcome Chinese students to study on campus in 2015.

In just seven days, the group got a taste of teenage life when they experienced lessons at Xinghua High School and visited Beijing, Xinghua, Suzhou and Shanghai. In Beijing the group were able to see Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Confuscius institute, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, Olympic Park, a silk market and of course the Great Wall of China.

The homestay exchange was an integral part of the visit and three nights were spent at the homes of Chinese families. The group enjoyed a music recital by Chinese students and Alton College music student and member of the Alton College Big Band, Freddie Hodkin, joined them playing some amazing jazz on the piano. Other cultural activities included a lesson in traditional bamboo painting, a martial arts class and strawberry picking.

In Suzhou the group visited the Lingering Garden and Tiger Hill before moving on to Shanghai for another night of homestay and lessons in English, Maths, Art and Technology.

Ben Mackrell was on the trip and said: “It was a great experience and I would advise anyone to visit China if the opportunity arises. To understand and learn the Chinese culture and education system was enlightening and I feel that the Chinese students will enjoy their time here very much too. The memories and friendships made on the trip will be life-long.”

Alton College’s International Manager, Andrew Cox, commented: “Our students clearly found the whole experience wonderfully enriching, and learned so much about what Chinese culture has to offer. In addition they were able to act as Ambassadors for the College, helping us in our strategy to attract students from our partner schools to complete their studies with us here in Alton.” He added: “We are very proud that the UK Border Agency has recently granted us ‘Highly Trusted Sponsor’ status; an award for Schools and Colleges which not only have an excellent academic record but which also have robust systems in place around Admissions, Student Attendance and Student Welfare. This is an essential component of our International Student Recruitment Programme going forward.”

Whilst these students were enjoying Chinese culture, other students have been skiing in Switzerland, photographing Morocco and exploring art in New York.

The New York trip included exploring Times Square and visiting the Empire State Building in the evening to enjoy a lit up view of Manhattan. They were inspired by a number of art galleries, museums and collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architectural masterpiece at the Guggenheim Museum.

The photography department convey their trip to Morocco through a stunning collection of images of African life including scenery, markets and food, and the ups and downs of the ski slopes of Leysin, Switzerland were enjoyed by students on a mixture of courses.

Our language students have also enjoyed cultural homestay trips. The Spanish departments at Alton College and Amery Hill School organised another successful trip to Tenerife to give AS and GCSE Spanish students the opportunity to stay with families and attend lessons at the Canarias Cultural Language School. Meanwhile, some of our French students visited Paris where they had French lessons in a French college.

Amy Baker from the AS Spanish group said: “The family we stayed with were so nice and welcoming and the food was amazing. The lessons we had during the day were really helpful for our oral exam. We all bonded really well as a group and we had a great time.”

Many UK trips are also available at Alton College and some financial support is available.

Students on Public Services courses regularly have the opportunity to experience life in a number of services including the Army, Navy and emergency services. A recent trip to Dinton Activity Centre in Berkshire gave 11 students the inspiration to sign up for the Royal Marines and a training session at Bournemouth Airport allowed students to learn how to deal with an aircraft emergency.

Alton College is currently recruiting homestay families to provide accommodation for our Chinese students coming here to study. If you’re interested in becoming a host family, visit www.altoncollege.ac.uk/hostfamily or phone 01420 592200 for more information.