I was recently given the opportunity to travel to China to promote the Wayne Country Day School brand and interview student candidates endeavoring to study abroad in the United States. This was my first time in China, and it proved to be an experience that I will not forget.
After a long flight from Detroit to 上海 (Shanghai), I then had to catch a connecting flight to 深圳 (Shenzhen). After spending a day in Shenzhen, culminating in an evening dinner where I met with parents of one of our current international students, we took an exhilarating bullet train to 福州 (Fuzhou) in Fujian province. In Fuzhou, I interviewed many interesting student candidates who will hopefully take the next steps to enroll at WCDS. The 新东方 (New Oriental) event created an opportunity for Wayne Country Day and other similar schools to get to know a good many students, and it gave these students a chance to practice their interviewing skills and find out more about what life is like as a foreigner attending high school in the United States.
I broke away from the group at 5:30 a.m. the next day and travelled by plane with another admissions officer to China’s capital, 北京 (Beijing). This was during the time of the 十九大 (shijiuda), or the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. When I arrived in Beijing I demanded to go immediately to 天安门 (tiananmen) square where, after passing through a security checkpoint in which I had to show my passport, I enjoyed a good half-hour visit on a day with beautiful clear weather and several good photo opportunities, including one outside of the Great Hall of the People, where president Xi Jinping was inside presiding over his delegates. There have been two places that I have visited in my life where a sort of mystical profundity seemed to wash over me; one was the Royal Palace in Madrid, the other was here at Tiananmen Square. My time in Beijing was too short, but I at least got to visit a few Buddhist temples, overlook the Forbidden City, and check out some 小吃 (xiaochi), which are Chinese-typical small dishes.
Then it was time to go to 石家庄 (Shijiazhuang), the capital and biggest city of North China’s 河北 (Hebei) province, where I had a speaking engagement with 河北正定学校 (Hebei Zhengding High School). We spent a total of three nights in Shijiazhuang, and we were treated as honored guests with the utmost Chinese hospitality. We visited many places of historic interest, visited with students, and made good connections with the faculty and staff of the school over delicious and bountiful Chinese meals, boosting Wayne Country Day’s international presence and brand recognition.
The next leg of my journey was a flight to the beautiful city of 昆明 (Kunming), the capital of 郁南 (Yunan) province, a place known for many things including good spicy food. Here, I presented our school to many parents and students. I also interviewed more student applicants.
The flight back to Shenzhen was about three hours long, and we were not able to check into the hotel until very late. The next day we had three events where I did more speaking, interviewing, and brand building.
Travelling to China has enhanced my perspective and widened the strategic and marketing scope of our very special school. The experience has left an indelible mark on me, and I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to visit this great nation to do so.