I am so fortunate to have traveled quite a bit in my lifetime thus far. I spent my 20s jetting around internationally, mostly in Europe, for work and play and was also lucky enough to plant seeds of friendship and professional contacts in many corners of the globe over those years. I love to get social media updates from former students from my time in New York as an International English School director telling me of their successful careers in the various fields they were dreaming of as teenagers. I love the connections. I love the details. I love the stories.
When I found out this spring that I would have the opportunity to represent Harrisburg Academy in China to meet with prospective students, I was beside myself with excitement. Eleven years of being a full-time mother and planning trips to ZooAmerica or Disney World instead of the Cote d’Azur or Barcelona had me restless with expectation and, admittedly, a little anxious. After my second dream about missing my flight because I couldn’t figure out what shoes to pack, I realized it was time to focus on what was important: seeing a new corner of the world; meeting young people eager to study abroad; and learning about the wonderful culture of a country that has already sent us so many fabulous students!
Once I refocused my energy, I was all set. Despite a snowstorm the day before I was to leave from Newark, I got off without a hitch and was on my way. The amazing place and people I found on the other side of the world was phenomenal!
I am happy to report that in addition to trying authentic Chinese “hot pot” meals (too many to count), touring the Summer Palace in Beijing, and admiring the view from the top of the Pearl Tower in Shanghai, I had the chance to interview 21 lovely young people with a hunger and drive to study in the United States that I’ve rarely seen before. I was able to do three presentations about our school and all of the advantages of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, our Centers for Experiential Learning & Innovation, and our small, family-like community.
We were well-received. I traveled with representatives from three other East Coast independent schools, but Harrisburg Academy was the only school to provide materials translated into Chinese… and Hershey’s kisses! My colleagues from schools in North Carolina and New Jersey felt that I was “cheating” with the chocolate, but I just explained that “a little personal touch” is how we do things at Harrisburg Academy.
So, in the end, were my expectations of my trip to China met? Not at all — they were exceeded a thousand times over! I believe I may have unearthed a little part of my traveling heart on this trip, and I cannot express to our community my gratitude for giving me the chance to be the face of Harrisburg Academy in other corners of the globe!
As we prepare for the new academic year, I encourage you and your family to consider serving as a host family for one of our wonderful international students (we welcome students from many countries across the world, not just China). Please be in touch!
Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.