Each fall semester, high school students at Concordia International School Shanghai head to villages and cities across China to experience the people, places, and cultures of their host country as part of the Transforming Individuals by Education and Service program (TrIBES). The TrIBES program is a unique and transformative learning experience that forms an integral part of the high school curriculum. It is designed to challenge students’ hearts, minds and bodies, allowing them to develop broader insight into some of the social and cultural aspects of China while expanding their communication and leadership skills, self-reliance and compassion.
This year, Concordia students traveled from Hainan to Xinjiang and from Inner Mongolia to Yunnan. They helped build clean water systems and school playgrounds; they practiced sustainable tourism, learned about social entrepreneurship; and they taught and played with local Chinese school children in cities and villages around the country.
Upon returning to Shanghai, students took part in a special assembly in which each group shared stories of their experience—how they bonded as a group, and how they came back with fresh perspectives on their own lives and a new appreciation for China and their Shanghai community.
Lots of schools have educational travel programs, says Off-Campus Education Coordinator Rebekah House, but what makes TrIBES unique is that the focus is on people. “During our trips, we grow community,” says House. “Our students build strong relationships with each other and with their teachers; these are bonds that last, and they offer the support system students need to maneuver high school successfully.”