22 Staples Students Take Off for China This July

Josiah Tarrant, Assistant Business Manager

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Shanghai, Suzhou, Moganshan, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Yangzhou, Chengdu, Xi’an and Beijing.

This summer, 22 Staples students will visit all these cities during an action-packed 17 day trip to China. Skillfully chaperoned by both Chris Fray, a Mandarin teacher at Staples, and his husband, Chip Reed, these students will travel throughout China with the Dragon Trip program.

On July 12 these brave adventurers, all of whom take Mandarin, will begin their trip by taking a 15 hour flight to Shanghai. From there they will spend a few days in each of the other eight cities. Included in these visits will be a four night stay with a Chinese family in Yangzhou, a trip to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Terracotta Warriors and the Panda Breeding Research Center. They will depart from Beijing and return to Newark on July 29.

Fray and Reed have led two trips to China in the past: one in 2009 and another in 2012. The two are avid travelers and together have totaled about 80 trips out of the country. The number of travelers is growing as they plan their trips: Their first trip had 7 students, the second had 9 students and the third trip will be the largest and longest, with 22 students, lasting two and a half weeks in order to maximize the sites visited.

“I’ve never seen the panda reserve, I’m excited to see that,” said Fray, and Reed enthusiastically agreed that their visit to the Panda Breeding Research Center would be one of the highlights.

When asked, Fray and Reed predicted the participants might be most nervous about staying with host families who speak mostly Chinese and getting used to a foreign cuisine, but both were confident students will gain amazing experiences from the trip. “I hope the trip will give my students a curiosity to want to travel more, and I really hope that it gives them some confidence in whatever level of language skills they are at,” Fray said.

Many of the students are excited for the trip. Hallie Spear ’18 explained, “I love to travel and I’ve always wanted to go to China. I think I am most excited to see the Great Wall, do the homestay and speak Mandarin with native speakers.”

Jack Kaner ’16 is also really looking forward to the homestay, “The homestay experience should let me immerse in the culture, as I’ll be living with a family of only native Chinese speakers. I’m excited to stay with this family, for I’ll improve my vocabulary and adjust to the different mannerisms.”

Spear and Kaner are not alone in their enthusiasm.  Several who attended the information session expressed that they are looking forward to spending two and a half weeks on the other side of the world learning about a lifestyle and culture much different than their own.

For students not signed up for this year’s trip, there’s still a chance to experience China ahead. Fray and Reed are planning to organize a trip every three or four years and look forward to many more adventures in China.  

For those traveling, Fray instructed students to pack light and to bring their appetites for his favorite dish, “peking duck!”

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