By Michael Howell
Ever wonder what life is like on the other side of the world? A group of Lone Rock School students is going to find out next spring by visiting China.
Social Studies teacher Betsy Purcell, who is helping organize the tour, said that when she began to explore options for an educational trip abroad she looked at a tour company catalogue and China stuck out in a major way. She said not only was China an exotic place with a rich and interesting history, but it was also an up and coming world economic power.
Purcell said there is little doubt that China will be a major player on the world stage in the coming decades, it is already a major investor in the U.S. economy, and represents one of the largest consumer markets in the world. She said the best way for kids to get to know some of the essentials about China is to go there.
The plan is to take a nine-day tour in May 2012, stopping in three cities including Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai. The students will get to visit the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in the world, and the nearby Forbidden City. They will also get to see the famed Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, the Shanghai business district, take a pagoda ride, visit a school and have dinner with a local family.
Lone Rock teacher Lori Rokosch, who is helping with the fundraising efforts, said that the educational part of the tour had already begun and would continue through the year. She said Stephen Levine, a China scholar who has taught at Columbia and Duke Universities as well as the University of Michigan and University of Montana, had volunteered to come in one day a week to teach the students some Chinese language, Chinese cooking, and modern Chinese culture.
“The students are also learning about entrepreneurship,” said Rokosch, “as they go about raising money to pay for the trip.” Besides the tried and true avenue of bake sales and more bake sales, there is also a metal recycling drive going on as well. Pacific Recycling of Missoula has donated a collection bin and the money made from the recycled metal will go toward the trip.
The students are getting a lot of help from their parents and their teachers and even from retired school cooks. In fact the highlight dish for the next fundraising event is retired cook Patti Calkins’ famous Stromboli. The fundraising dinner and auction will be held at the school from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. on October 8. A silent auction will run from 5:15 to 7:00 and a live auction will begin at 7:00. Tickets to the event are $6 or four tickets for $20.