Chinese New Year was celebrated across the globe on Saturday 25 January. The celebration, based around the lunar month marks the beginning of the year of the Rat. It is said that people born in this year like saving and that if they ever give you a gift, they clearly think a lot of you, as rarely spend money on others! Stowe partook in the festivities in a multitude of ways. The entire school wrote messages of positivity to each other, and placed them in Red Envelopes with a chocolate coin, to emulate the tradition of yasui qian. Houses were decorated in bright colours, with various Chinese dragons and symbols. The photos here show the incredible efforts of Mr and Mrs Cuddy in Walpole house to bring the festival to life! Stoics also visited the local primary schools to share their culture with younger pupils. Clarissa On, Mary Ding, Ruo Zhang and Sirui Jiang were joined by the matron of West, Mrs Harding, on their visit to Chackmore primary school. Whilst there, the girls taught the primary school pupils how to speak basic Chinese, Chinese calligraphy, and also how to make Chinese paper lanterns! Glue, coloured paper and felt pens galore, the pupils from both schools thoroughly enjoyed themselves!
On Saturday 2 November, members of the Stowe badminton team played a set of friendly matches against students from Buckingham University. Both establishments have a great number of international students who are interested in the sport, and as such this proved an ideal opportunity to support Stoics from all nations. Many of the university students have only been in the UK for a few months, and found this a great way to practice their English as well as develop new skills. For Stoics, it allowed for time to converse within their native language, and also discuss the challenges that come with beginning education in a foreign country. The badminton matches were played well, with the Stoics being praised frequently by the university students for their outstanding skills in the sport, as well as their humility and welcoming nature. Some excellent connections have been formed between students from both locations, with the university students being keen to participate not only in further sports tournaments, but also to support the school through delivering academic talks and lectures.
Stowe School houses a great variety of cultures, faiths and ethnicities. We are home to students and staff from over 40 different countries, ranging from Ghana to Australia and beyond. With such a diverse population within our school body, the school is developing the support and care offered for students who have joined us from abroad. Some students from other nations may initially find they experience culture shock or homesickness when arriving in Britain, and as such, may need additional guidance in their first few weeks at Stowe. The first International Student Dinner was held on Tuesday 10 September, and provided an opportunity for our international students to mix with others who have a similar culture to themselves, and also to meet those from other countries too. The time was also used for the students to voice any concerns or difficulties they have about being in the UK, and to provide ideas of how we could grow the multicultural nature of the school. Many students have since opted to join an International Student Council, which will be meeting at least once a half term to build upon the initiatives proposed on this evening.
On Thursday 28 November, Stowe celebrated Thanksgiving in style! As we are home to over 20 American and Canadian pupils and Staff, we wanted to ensure they were able to celebrate as they usually would at home. Thanksgiving is a federal holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It was originated as a harvest festival. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, and now Thanksgiving is one of the United States’ most important holidays. As such, Constance and Helen Sharp (Third Form, Lyttelton) offered to teach Stoics how to play American football. They explained the rules of the game well, and although tackling was not allowed, pupils thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in learning a new sport!
The Music Department hosted a concert in the Ugland. A short talk was provided by Alice Scheffey (Fourth Form, Queen’s) about the importance of Thanksgiving, followed by performances from Theo Hayes (Upper Sixth, Chatham), Poppy Baker (Lower Sixth, Cheshire) and Purva Shegunshi (Lower Sixth, Cheshire). All pupils involved delivered outstanding pieces, and it was an excellent celebration of just some of what the USA has provided to the musical world. The Catering Staff supported this celebration by providing a delicious Thanksgiving meal in the evening, made up of not only the traditional roast dinner, but also pumpkin pie for dessert! Decorations were put up around the State Dining Room, and American pupils competed to name as many US states and American Presidents as possible. With full stomachs, Stoics were then encouraged to reflect in House about what they are thankful for, showing a great air of gratitude and thankfulness throughout the entire School body.
The optional Exeat in December comes as a welcome break for our pupils, with the opportunity to see friends and family before the final hurdle into Christmas. However, many of our international pupils can find it difficult being away from loved ones so close to the festive period. As such, a trip to London was arranged for the International Pupil Council. Pupils undertook a tour of the London Dungeons, hearing all about the wicked and dangerous past of the city. The Stowe pupils got involved in the fun, with Alicia Wilson (Third Form, Lyttelton) acting as a runner for Guy Fawkes, and Michael Chen (Lower Sixth, Chandos) being found guilty and hung, simply for being from Hong Kong! Dr Dennis didn’t escape easily either, having to undergo various torture methods, including having his manhood removed! After the fun and games, Stoics then spent some time Christmas shopping in the capital, with many enjoying lunch in Chinatown before returning to school. A fantastic first outing of the International Pupil Council, with many more on the horizon.
Francesca Shah, Head of International Pupils