Throughout the last several weeks, Tabor has hosted dozens of foreign students from around the world on campus as part of several foreign exchange programs. Throughout the beginning of April, students from England, China, and France have come to Tabor to experience an American school and the American lifestyle.
On Monday, April 17, a group of students from a school in Lyon, France arrived on campus after the school’s long weekend for Easter. After touring the school, the students will participate in classes, extracurricular activities, and more. All the students will be visiting several locations in the local area, including the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Sandwich, Plymouth, and Boston. As with all of the students who visit from foreign countries, the students will stay in dormitories and in the homes of day students.
Last week, nine students from RDFZ School in Beijing, China visited Tabor for a week, participating in a similar week of activities to that of the French exchange students. The Chinese students visited classes, took part in some afterschool extracurricular activities, and visited key local destinations. Being from Beijing, the students were surprised with the contrast of the Tabor campus and Marion community to their own bustling metropolis.
“We were surprised at what a quiet location the school was in with pine trees along the road, rabbits jumping out on the street, and squirrels climbing up on the top of branches. Instead of walking outside surrounded by giant buildings, the ocean was a beautiful surprise,” said one Chinese exchange student.
The students saw several similarities between their school and Tabor, but also a number of differences. The students cited similarities in many of the sports, including hockey, squash, and crew. One of the major differences, however, lay in the quality of the food both at Tabor and in local restaurants, they said.
“Some of [the foods] I even can’t say the name, but they all really tasted good … in China, our dining hall is not as good and we always order food and get delivery,” said one of the RDFZ School students.
The students also cited differences in the teaching styles of the teachers at Tabor and at their home school. They noted that they could not ask questions at their home school until a teacher had finished a lecture and given them exercises. At Tabor, they said, “Teachers are full of passion and very interesting, and they also give us a question before classes begin. After we have learned the context of the class, teachers talk about questions to us and ask us what we think about them.”
Before the Chinese students came, Tabor hosted actors and actresses from Ellesmere College in England for a week as they visited to showcase their performance of Gosforth’s Fete, an English farce by Alan Ayckborn. While the performance of this play was the main reason for the visit of the English students, these students also got to explore the local area and experience life at Tabor much in the way the other student groups did. This visit was part of the Ellesmere/Tabor exchange that has taken place over the past 20 years, following a visit of Tabor students to Ellesmere College during spring break.
While all these exchanges are great opportunities for Tabor students to explore foreign schools and for foreign students to experience Tabor, more opportunities are on the horizon for further exchanges over the next few years. Associate Director of the Center for International Students Rick Dasilva has recently been working on developing a new partnership with Rysenteen Gymnasiam in Copenhagen, Denmark that will expand international exchange opportunities for Tabor students.
According to Tabor’s website, partner schools are located in Argentina, Canada, China, Egypt, Iceland, India, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and the U.S. Also, “Tabor will serve as the math/science center for the network due to our excellent programs in these disciplines and for our niche in marine science.”
Although Tabor is located in a tiny seaside town, miles from the nearest international hub, a global community is introduced through these exchanges to not only Tabor Academy but also to the Marion and Southcoast communities as a whole.
By Jack Gordon