On Friday afternoon we picked up our children from the Suzhou Experimental Elementary School, an impressive campus with about 3,000 students in grades K - 6. The kids clearly had a wonderful week and were treated as very special guests by both the school community and their host families. There were even a few tears shed by some of the Chinese students as their new friends departed. For parents, it was fun to see through photos posted all the activities kids got to do after school with their families, including Chinese painting, special dinners, visiting sites around the city, and swimming (indoors, not in one of the many canals that criss-cross the city of Suzhou). During the homestay we enjoyed exploring the city and its different neighborhoods, including the beautiful garden (one of the most famous in the country) just across the street from our hotel. Suzhou even has its own "Times Square" with an enormous LED screen (world's largest? - it went on forever) suspended horizontally overhead.
Loaded down with all the gifts they received from host families and classmates (I've already filled the extra bag I brought), we packed up and left Suzhou yesterday for Xi'an, a historic city about a 2.5 hour flight west. Today we begin exploring and learning about this region. The weather also seems to be milder, which I think we all will appreciate as it was a pretty chilly week in Suzhou.
- Lisa Goldberg, TIS Parent