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IB students attend international symposium in China

English+teacher+Ty+Frederickson+talks+to+his+students+during+the+symposium+to+share+their+ideas+for+their+action+plan.
English teacher Ty Frederickson talks to his students during the symposium to share their ideas for their action plan.

English teacher Ty Frederickson talks to his students during the symposium to share their ideas for their action plan.

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English teacher Ty Frederickson talks to his students during the symposium to share their ideas for their action plan.

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Washburn Rural’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program brought six students to China for an International Student Leadership Symposium from March 20-28.

These students included juniors Alexis Rawlings, Benjamin Nutter, Lesley Torices, Caleb Triggs, Balin Schneider and sophomore Alex Williams. The students were led by English teacher Ty Frederickson.

The group participated together in what is known as a symposium, which brings schools from around the world to focus on global problems.

These problems include poverty and education, human trafficking, world economy and distribution of resources.

The symposium had students attending from 13 different countries, including Belgium, Germany and South Africa.

“During the symposium, we participated in city excursions, small workshops and crafts, student-led presentations and lectures focusing on this years theme, which was the recent developments in China and its lasting impact on the global economy,” Nutter said.

The overall intention of the symposium was to introduce the students to social and economic issues in China and relate them back to what is happening in their hometown.

While in China, the group stayed with a host family in Nanjing.

“Our host family took us out to eat and to see the sights in Nanjing which helped in meeting a lot of new people from around the world,” Williams said.

Yet, the host family wasn’t the only ones who made the students feel more at home. Frederickson has been to 50 countries and has traveled to China four times.

It was a very open discussion and we were able to disprove so many stereotypes and biases to really learn from each other”

— Junior Benjamin Nutter

However, even though he has been there multiple times he said he feels as though he knows nothing about the country because there is so much to see and learn.

“One day during the trip as I was driving down the highway looking at the city, I came to the realization that even though I have been to China four times, I know nothing,” Frederickson said. “I know nothing about the culture, the people or the history.”

Being in a different country means meeting all new types of people, and it also has the potential to form lifelong friendships with people across the world which can make a trip so far away from home worth it.

“[My favorite part of the trip] was definitely just talking with people from so many different areas,” Nutter said. “It was a very open discussion and we were able to disprove so many stereotypes and biases to really learn from each other. I remember some of the conversations I had each day after the symposium with a few students from different schools, and I think they will stick with me for a long time.”

Frederickson agreed with Nutter in that his favorite part was the people as well.

“[The best part] was getting a chance to interact around the world with kids and adults who generally believe they have the capacity to change the world for better,” Frederickson said.

It is easy to draw comparisons between people from different countries without actually have been in the country or experienced the daily lives of those in that country. For many of the students involved on the trip, it was a common theme they experienced while they were in China.

“Probably the biggest thing that stood out to me from the trip is the way we draw comparisons between people. It can be good and bad, but gets confusing when you see such huge cultural differences, then spend the next moment realizing how similar we all are,” Nutter said. “I think we all gained a new view on China and have a better understanding of what daily life is like there, whether the realities are more positive or negative than our first assumptions.”

Each person that traveled to China came home with a different opinion of the trip, and an experience that will change their lives forever.

The people I met have become lifelong friends, I would love to go back and have even considered exchange programs at Nanjing Foreign Language School”

— Sophomore Alexandria Williams

“The people I met have become lifelong friends, I would love to go back and have even considered exchange programs at Nanjing Foreign Language School,” Williams said. “It was an amazing cultural experience.”

Nutter said he believes the lasting effect on his life from this trip will go beyond just the friends he made.

“The trip made me more willing to try new things and travel more. I will be more cautious when learning about other people and places to try and get the whole story before passing judgment,” Nutter said. “At the symposium, we started constructing action plans to conduct in our own local areas, and our group is fairly confident that ours will involve going to nearby middle schools and discussing the importance of open-minded, global thinking. If it is successful, then that will be the most notable part in my opinion.”

I also hope they discovered that the world is far more beautiful than it is dangerous”

— English teacher Ty Frederickson

Frederickson said he also hopes this trip will have helped students walk away with awareness about their potential to enact meaningful change in the world. Additionally, he said he hopes that this trip has helped them to discover the reward in taking great risks.

“I want the students to learn that placing themselves in a position to be disrupted is a great way to live,” Frederickson said. “I also hope they discovered that the world is far more beautiful than it is dangerous.”

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The student news site of Washburn Rural High School
IB students attend international symposium in China