For three weeks this summer, Asheville School’s campus will transform into the first international summer camp in the school’s 115-year history.
Thanks to a partnership with Tsinghua University High School in Beijing, China, 27 of the prestigious high school’s students traveled to Asheville to dive into Asheville School’s nationally acclaimed Humanities curriculum led by master teachers Tim Plaehn and Hannah Bonner 2006.
“Students are taking two humanities courses – an English and a history course – and Explorations in English, where they’ll have opportunities to do creative writing and watch 1920s films,” says Megan Grant, director of the Asheville School Summer Program.
These Chinese students, most of whom are rising sophomores, arrived with two chaperones from Beijing on July 12 and are living on campus in theKehaya Residential Hall until August 1.
“We have six counselors, most of whom are Asheville School alumni, who are running the after school activities and residential programs, and helping with Explorations in English,” Grant says, who teaches mathematics at Asheville School.
Aside from studying literature from America’s Jazz Age, Grant says the students will also explore American culture through several field trips in and around Asheville.
“We’re going to the Biltmore House and to the Thomas Wolfe House, an Asheville Tourists baseball game, hiking, on a trolley tour, and on collegevisits to UNC Asheville and Clemson University,” Grant says. “We’re also planning on exploring downtown Asheville to see the Art Deco architecture.”
Administrators at the Tsinghua University High School are enthusiastic about having their students study in Asheville — especially at one of the country’s highly ranked boarding schools. “This partnership will allow Asheville School and Tsinghua to co-develop programs that will educate the future leaders of the world,” said Wang Dianjun, Principal of Tsinghua High School. “From Tsinghua, we really want to send our best students to this campus to experience this premier boarding school and open their eyes to a new world. We think it will help to foster 21st century future leaders.”
Head of School Arch Montgomery says he’s optimistic the program will flourish for years to come.
“This first year will give a good indication of how this relationship with Tsinghua might grow in future years,” Montgomery says. “The school leaders at Tsinghua would like to expand the program, but we’re taking it slow because we want to make sure everything we do is something we do well.”
Montgomery says the program definitely has a lot of potential. If the program were to expand, Montgomery says it’s possible Asheville School may send students who are studying Chinese to Tsinghua over the summer.
“The result may be that being associated with Tsinghua University raises our profile in China,” he says. “We get really strong students from China now, but this partnership could guarantee that our students from China are the best.”
For Grant, her hope is that these students leave Asheville having had a positive American experience.
“I want them to have a positive impression of American boarding schools and I want them to be challenged and have fun,” Grant says. “I will be working behind the scenes to make sure every experience is fruitful and meaningful for these young scholars. I hope they get a taste of what it’s like to be an Asheville School student.”
Asheville School is a nationally acclaimed co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9 through 12. The 285 students enrolled at Asheville School represent 20 states and 15 countries. Recent graduates have been accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, UCLA, Davidson, NC State, University of Virginia, Emory, Duke, Wake Forest, and Yale among others.