That Day Students Ditched Desks for Nature

A select group of eighth graders of both the Puxi and Pudong campuses set off for an adventure of a lifetime as Microcampus 8 finally made a comeback after a hiatus due to Covid-19. Armed with enthusiasm and a thirst for exploration, these young explorers stepped out of their comfort zones to immerse themselves in the rich culture of the Naxi and Bai ethnic minorities in Xizhou, Yunnan Province. 

Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and traditional architecture, the students spent 10 days learning the history and culture of the ancient tea horse road, which included a three-day trek. They embraced the customs and traditions of the Naxi and Bai people, donned traditional attire, explored local villages, experienced unique local foods and dances, and practiced writing messages in the local languages.  

Microcampus 8 is an exclusive program whereby students need to apply. It provides unique opportunities for deep dives into learning, adventuring through nature and so much more. By participating in the various activities, students refine their communication, collaboration and teamwork skills, as well as their independence. 

“The goal was to give students the opportunity to experience the beauty and culture of rural China outside the school’s walls and away from the busy Shanghai life, and developing the skills to be an independent, curious and responsible young adult,” said Mr. John LeValley, Grade 8 teacher and Puxi campus’s Microcampus 8 trip leader. 

After having been stuck in Shanghai because of the pandemic, the students were beyond excited for the opportunity to connect with nature, each other and new experiences.  

Puxi student Jones reminisced about how, for the first time in his life, he had to set up a tent with others and help cook for about 30 people, making sure they went to sleep satisfied. “I learned a lot of independence, to always try by yourself first and see how far you can push yourself before asking for help.” 

Microcampus 8 helped another Puxi student, Heidi, to expand her worldview. “Our world is more than just Shanghai. Microcampus 8 is about learning to expand your way of thinking and how you see the world, and to do something different and new. I socialized in ways I didn’t think I would normally as I was on a camp with people I didn’t know. I had to learn to bond with others.” 

Not only was the excursion good for fostering relationships and teamwork, students had opportunities for introspection. “One of the reasons I applied to go on this trip is to develop my individuality alongside independence. It is a terrific way of self-exploring through activities and real-life experiences,” said Pudong student Nathan. 

Microcampus 8 is a learning-beyond-the-classroom program that is unique to SAS. The combined efforts of specialist individuals – like our wilderness expert – and Chinese cultural organizations have designed an excursion that is truly unmatched. This is a sentiment that Pudong Middle School teacher and Microcampus 8 trip leader, Paul Fournier, strongly agrees with. 

“These trips are one of the most important parts of any education. As a teacher, I recognize that lessons which leave the greatest impact on students are those that leave them with distinct memories and change their character for the better. Each student left this trip knowing something more about the world around them and their own place in it.” 

After being confined to Shanghai’s borders for all experiential learning, this year’s Microcampus 8 an extra memorable one. We’re already excited for next year’s. 



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