Upper Schooler Visits Annie Wright’s Sister School in China


Sasha Zhang sits second from the right.

Julia Henning, Online Editor

In December, before the COVID-19 outbreak, freshman Sasha Zhang traveled to China to attend school in Qingdao for a month. Annie Wright opened a new division, Baishan AWS, in partnership with the Baishan School in Qingdao last fall. Zhang visited the campus during her time in China.

Inkwell: How was this opportunity made available to you?

Zhang: Originally, I was going to go on [the trip] in the summer before ninth grade, in June. We had heard about the Baishan school when I was starting eighth grade. So in January of eighth grade, we had a meeting with Mr. Sullivan. Basically, I asked him if I could do this trip, because I had been wanting to study abroad in China for a long time since I speak Chinese and it’s part of who I am. He was really into [the idea], so we connected with people over there and coordinated it.

Inkwell: Were you able to see the AWS Baishan school?

Zhang: Baishan has a normal school and the Annie Wright division, so because I spoke Chinese, I went to the normal school which is like a private school for the Chinese kids. I stayed in their dorms on the weekdays and then on the weekends I went with a student from the Annie Wright Baishan school.

Inkwell: What is your favorite memory from your four weeks?

Zhang: Overall, the trip was really great for me, and I made a lot of friends and I felt really included there. I have two favorite things: one day it snowed and it never snows there, and we didn’t go to class for the first two hours which is really abnormal because the classes are really rigorous there. So we just played out in the snow and had snow ball fights, and it was cool to see these kids that were normally so studious and almost hard core just be loose and it was really fun. And the second thing was that I made a really close friend while I was there, so the last three days I had a 3-day sleepover with her essentially.

Inkwell: What was your daily routine?

Zhang: I think we woke up at 6:00 am, and the dorm parents would wake everyone up and play music out of the speakers. We’d all go run laps and do a morning exercise. And then we’d eat breakfast and then there was this before school study time which was essentially a tutorial period before school started. Then we’d have five periods of class, then lunch, and then four periods, and then we would end at 5:00 pm and then have dinner. And then we’d study hall until 9:30 and then go back to the dorms and shower, get ready for bed, and repeat.

On the weekends, I was able to go out in the city, either by myself or with friends. And I did volunteer at Baishan AWS school a few times. If they had prospective parents coming in, I did Q&As with them. The last few days I helped volunteer in some of their classes as well.

Inkwell: Have you heard about your friends’ living situations there now since the outbreak of the coronavirus? 

Zhang: I got back the day before all the news of the coronavirus started going around. I keep in contact with a lot of them and they’re not in school right now, and I don’t think they’re going to be back in school for a while, but they’re doing online classes also like we are. Most of them don’t go out very much; they go out maybe once or twice a week now.