Last summer, prefirst teacher Mary-Catherine Irving traveled to Beijing, where she ran a summer camp about zoo design for 33 students from Hujialou Central Elementary School. Seeing an opportunity for cross-cultural learning, Irving and Middle School teacher FangFang Ma invited those same students to McDonogh from February 10 to 15 to meet American students, experience American schools, and visit the National Zoo in Washington to learn about habitat designs.
While an unexpected snow storm forced the group to abandon some of their original plans, it also provided an opportunity for some spontaneous fun. The Chinese students, who were not accustomed to such snowfall, took the afternoon to sled and throw snowballs on McDonogh's campus. Along with a trip to the Maryland Science Center, the students also had several opportunities to meet and interact with McDonogh students from both the Lower and Middle Schools. They played games, shared meals, practiced speaking in each other's language, and developed friendships.