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Sunday 21 May - We have arrived safe and sound into our hotel in Beijing after a busy first day. After arriving at the airport, we visited the Olympic Park, had lunch, experienced a tea ceremony and walked around the traditional Hutong District. We are all quite tired and looking forward to a good night's sleep. Off to see The Great Wall of China tomorrow!

Monday 22 May - Had a great day despite the inauspicious torrential rain this morning! Visited Ming Tombs then Great Wall of China.  Weather had cleared by the time we got to the wall, leaving clear views, no crowds, and the perfect temperature for what was quite a gruelling climb! Students behaving themselves impeccably.

Tuesday 23 May - visited Tiananmen Square in the morning via multiple security checks.  A truly impressive Square in the heart of the city where Chairman Mao is entombed in his Mausoleum. After this, we visited the Forbidden City where we bumped into tourists from all over the world!  After lunch we visited Wangfujing Street in the bustling commercial centre for a spot of shopping, before rounding off the day with a stroll around the lake at the peaceful Summer Palace.

Wednesday 24 May - We had a great day today - it was an early start so that we could visit the beautiful and majestic Temple of Heaven with its famous echo wall, then we headed off to the train station to catch our high speed bullet train to Yueyang.

Thursday 25 May - We had a wonderful welcome from our partner school today - students met us at the school gates singing and waving flags. Sexey's students met their buddies for the day and had a tour around the school grounds. We saw the trees that both Mr Latif and Mr McGovern planted!

The students participated in mask painting and calligraphy classes, and students from both schools gave a presentation on the national holidays of each country.

We were treated to a very special meal this evening - the local food in Hunan Province is spicy and flavoursome, with lots of seafood and fresh water fish from the Dongting Lake.

Friday 26 May - Today at Yueyang No. 2 Middle School the students took part in lessons - in PE they learned Tai Chi, and in music they learned a Chinese song. They made zong zi, parcels of rice and sweet dates, which are a traditional food eaten this weekend at the Dragon Boat Festival.

The Chinese students were so excited to have us here! Our students were invited into many lessons to talk about life at Sexey's. We even taught them to sing our school song! Mrs Wilkinson and Miss Taras taught some English lessons to huge classes of up to 75 students.

We have been made to feel so welcome and we are overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the staff and students here at No.2 Middle School.

Saturday 27 May - Today the students participated in some sports and games outside, showing some impressive skills despite the 30 degree heat! They continued to receive many gifts from the Yueyang students who have been incredibly generous - I'm not sure how they will manage to fit them all in their suitcases!

This afternoon we walked to the Dongting Lake and went out on boats to search for finless porpoises, an endangered creature - only 1000 left in the wild. We saw a few swimming by the boat, including a mother and baby. The local television station joined us on the boat and filmed staff and students talking about their experiences for the evening news!

Tonight our students are staying with their partner families, a truly special experience for them.

Sunday 28 May - Today was a national holiday for the locals who were celebrating the first of 3 days off work for the Dragon Boat Festival. They no longer have boat races on the Dongting Lake, but they do get together with friends and family and eat plenty of good food.

We spent the day with staff and partner students seeing the sights of Yueyang. We visited Junshan Island, a beautiful and peaceful landscaped island with temples and sculptures, followed by lunch at a Chinese pizza restaurant! We then visited the famous Yueyang Tower before stocking up with gifts and souvenirs.

The students have only one more night with their partner families - we head to Shanghai tomorrow for the final leg of our amazing trip.

Monday 29 May - Today we had to say goodbye to our partner students at Yueyang No.2 Middle School. It has been a great trip and everyone was very sad to leave.

We had a friendship party before we left and we were treated to some amazing performances by the Chinese students who are very accomplished musicians and performers.

Tonight we flew to Shanghai for the final day. 

 

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