During the final two weeks of the academic year, students in grades 9 and 10 at Concordia International School Shanghai participate in Explorations, a program designed to impart interpersonal and practical skills through interactive activities. At the same time, 11th graders are busy completing their high school internships.
Among the Exploration options for the 2022-23 school year, there was a unique opportunity offered: a “Faith Trek” trip organized in collaboration with Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation (CWEF), which provided an internship opportunity as a part of the Explorations program.
A Trip Blending Adventure and Service
The trip commenced with a grueling two-day ascent up a mountain in Shangri-la, Yunnan, which afforded students a glimpse of the unique Tibetan culture in the region. After surmounting the arduous hike, the students were rewarded with the breathtaking view of Selie Lake from the summit of a 4300 meter peak.
The second portion of the trip was focused on service in 武定 (Wuding) county. There, the group worked in collaboration with a local community service organization dedicated to serving the underprivileged children in the local communities.
They began as an organization focused on the funding of children’s education; however, as they continued with their original mission, they began noticing many overlooked or underserved communities. Over the years, the local organization has branched out and adapted their mission to better address other service opportunities they have identified.
Concordia students were able to engage with two ongoing projects. The first of these projects began in a repurposed elementary school that now operates as the organization’s community center in a rural village on the periphery of Wuding. This community center acts as the base of their operations in the local village, and they are hoping to host summer camps and weekend activities there. The interns that worked with CWEF throughout the service trip are currently working on the planning stages of the social enterprise that the local organization hopes to establish in the next 5-10 years.
Activities began with a hike to the sightseeing areas around the local village, including some natural cave formations as well as a large waterfall.
Concordia students were able to build valuable friendships with the local children present at the retreat. Later in the day at the community center, they piloted some programs that the organization would be able to replicate in future activities. These activities were based on themes of effective communication, self-confidence, and hopes and aspirations.
The second project that Concordia students engaged in took place at a community center of the local organization that aims to offer a sense of belonging and happiness to the underprivileged girls in Wuding County. One of the highlights of the activity was when Concordia students made dumplings with the girls and played team building games with them. The group also shared the Concordia spirit of Jiayou with the girls as a token of encouragement.
A Journey of Growth
The trip provided Concordia students with an opportunity to engage with the local community, learn about different cultures, and develop practical skills that will serve them well in the future. It was an exceptional opportunity that combined adventure, service, and cultural immersion, creating a meaningful experience for all involved.
Ella M. and Tyler L. (Class of ’24) reflected on their memorable experiences from the trip:
The hike left all of us feeling humbled by nature, and grateful for the privileges that many of us take for granted. During the second portion of the trip, our service provided a sense of fulfillment as well as personal growth. This trip allowed us all to accomplish more than we ever thought we could.
- Ella M. (Class of ’24)
Working as interns throughout the trip, my peers and I faced obstacles that helped us develop leadership and problem-solving skills. The trip was also a great learning experience that introduced many students to the concept of giving back.
- Tyler L. (Class of ’24)
Article written by Tyler L.
Video edited by Derek S.
Pictures by (C’24 & C’25 students) Derek S., Jeremy C., Ally C., Tyler L. and (teacher) Dr. Jennifer Rizzo