Friday, June 8, 2012

Goodbye Rainbow Bridge

Blogging has been light as it’s been a trying week for us to say the least. Dealing with the death of a great friend and major illness for my father and Doug’s mother have taken an emotional toll, made all the worse by being halfway around the world. But as is always the case, life moves forward, and there are times of happiness even during our darkest moments, whether they are showing your mother around the city you've lived in for the past four months or spending an afternoon at an elementary school watching kids put on plays.

On the Bund

For us, the boys’ school, Rainbow Bridge (RBIS), has been a real source of joy this semester. Not that there haven’t been other really enjoyable things here too, but the extent to which the boys have been accepted and embraced at school has been good for us to watch. Gigamind, their school in Hong Kong, was good, but it was not a perfect fit for us. Rather, it was a good fit because it was available. But since it served primarily local children, they weren’t as accepting of the boys (they’re not used to dealing with foreign kids or kids coming and going) and the workload was immense. The schoolwork was really Chinese in focus – lots of drilling, lots of worksheets and busy work at home. While the boys learned a great deal there, they were also starting to learn to dislike school – not a good outcome.

At RBIS though, the kids have learned to love school again. As they’ve counted down the final days of school, they’ve been truly sad, as they’ll miss their friends and their routine. And even though the workload is not as burdensome, they’ve still learned a lot. Berkley has discovered a new love of the arts. He used to hate art class; in fact, on the first day of art at RBIS, Berkley told Mr. Alex that art really wasn’t his thing. But yesterday, on the way home, the boys discussed what their ideal school day would look like which was basically multiple periods of recess before lunch, followed by P.E. and then art. To hear Berkley say that was music to our ears. Quin has blossomed under the project/inquiry based focus of RBIS too. The feature article that he produced (which we saw yesterday) was really impressive. Each student wrote the materials and laid out their own article themselves; if I saw it without knowing anything about it, there is no way that I would have ever guessed that a third grader produced it. And it’s not just Quin – the other articles in the class were great too.

Honestly, if we could move RBIS to Dartmouth, we would love to. We’ve been accepted into the community, having visited the school for numerous events (Literacy Week, Earth Day, Poetry Readings, Festival of the Arts, and Spring Performance).

 From the Festival of the Arts (note the 7:21 slot)

 A Sample Poem from Berkley's Poetry Reading

Quin narrating his class play
The boys have been accepted as well (being an international school, they are far more used to dealing with students coming and going) and have made tremendous friendships. They’ve already been begging us to take trips to visit their friends when they return to homelands in South Korea, Japan and Holland, to name a few.

Berkley's birthday party

 We are thrilled over the extent to which the school embraces and integrates the arts into the curriculum. Add to that the fact that the boys receive an hour of foreign language instruction daily, and we couldn’t be happier. So, while we are eagerly looking forward to our return home to be closer to family and friends, we will be sad to leave this part of our life behind.

 Berkley with Ms. Michelle

Quin with Mr. Franco

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Shannon, sounds like an amazing school. Mindfully conceived and executed. I just checked out their website. Very impressive. And your boys! Looks and sounds like they are doing fabulously well! You and Doug should be proud of them and your bold decision to spend your year this way.

    Hold tight to all that is dear in this trying time. Sending you all love and hugs. xo