This Week in HZ

Stay up to date on the latest student news and happenings across Hangzhou CIS's mini-campus.

A Satisfying End to HZ7’s Beginning Term (Oct.14)

Dormitory life builds community and promotes friendship among students                      

Our six dormitory house teams traveled to distinctive destinations surrounding Hangzhou for a two-day House Retreat last week. Through a series of carefully designed activities, students reflected on themselves and their integration into the greater whole of the house team, with the aim of enhancing mutual respect, trust, and friendship. Through these two days together, our house teams grew closer in thought and created memories to hold on to for the rest of the year.

Students participated in a series of rich and colorful community-building activities during House retreats

Dragon Boat Competition Shows Sports Spirit      

Throughout this term, Hangzhou CIS students have trained hard in the hot sun for the long-anticipated Dragon Boat race, which finally transpired last Friday afternoon. Houses, dressed in their dorm colors, met in the library to invigorate themselves as teams before excitedly setting off together to Xixi Wetland Park for the races. The air was filled with the competition’s friendly atmosphere, the sound of strong drums guiding the boats, and students cheering for their house and floor teams. Through this one experience, our students fully embodied Hangzhou CIS’s four pillars: challenge, character, community, and China. We all returned to campus that evening with the sounds of of the race still ringing our their ears, and the spirit of teamwork and community lingering in our hearts.

Contestants struggle to win the prize

Students cheer for their teammates  

Students feeling that true sense of satisfaction that comes only after exhaustion

First term closed on Saturday with a song, dance, or skit performance from each house, which they developed during the House Retreats. After the performances, the results of the Dragon Boat race were announced: Second floor Snow Leopards won the championships across the board: male, female, and collective group! Congratulations to the Snow Leopards, and sincere commendations to the ardent efforts put forth by all students!

House performances 

A moment of glory 

On the road to self-improvement, Hangzhou CIS students are learning to help each other and make progress together by facing challenges, building character, and strengthening community. They have successfully completed their first semester of study in Hangzhou, and we all look forward to more wonderful Hangzhou CIS events and interactions next semester.

The Beyond Endeavor (Oct.7)

With support of the CIS annual fund, Hangzhou CIS was honored last week to welcome three experts-in-residence from the United States: Thinker-in-residence and Planet Walker, Dr. John Francis; solar unmanned Shipmaker-in-residence, Damon McMillan; and former lead Humanities teacher and founding member of Hangzhou CIS staff, Innovator-in-residence, Daniel Kinzer. Together with our Hangzhou CIS community, this team initiated the planning phases of an exciting new project: to build the the first unmanned, solar-powered boat to cross the Pacific ocean, the Beyond Endeavor.

Throughout the week, students capitalized on our guests’ expertise in many different ways. At TedxHangzhouCIS, students listened to our guests' inspirational stories about lessons learned from silently walking the planet Earth for 17 years, about the tumultuous journey of creating an unmanned solar-powered ocean-going vessel, and about traveling to the edge of the world in Antarctica. We paused for a meditative moment to enjoy our shared connections with Thinker-in-residence, Dr. John Francis, by exploring Hangzhou's ancient canal together on foot. Finally, we put this thinking and innovating to use with Damon McMillan, Maker-in-residence, as we developed the first ideas for bringing the Beyond Endeavor project to life. Through these shared experiences, students opened their minds and eagerly discussed the possibilities for a more sustainable future, as envisioned in the ship-building project. By the end of the week, more than 50 students signed up to join in the creation of the Beyond Endeavor, and we are eager to move to the next stage of its development.

Teachers and students peacefully traverse the ancient canal in Hangzhou, engaging in Planet Walk with Dr. John Francis. Also shown: students visiting Hangzhou Bay as the future launch site for the Beyond Endeavor.

At TedxHangzhouCIS, teachers and students listened to stories from our three guests and brainstormed the future together.

The launch of the Beyond Endeavor provides Hangzhou CIS students with new challenges, opportunities and innovative practice platforms, so that students can constantly reflect, rebuild, improve, and surpass themselves while expanding their knowledge and interest in learning.

Dragon Boat Training and Promoting the Spirit of Cooperation (Sept.30)

Dragon Boat Training

This term, Hangzhou CIS has been inundated with team spirit as House teams gain expertise in the art of Dragon Boat racing. Every week, students train with their houses in Xixi Wetland Park, culminating in the upcoming Inter-House Dragon Boat Race at the end of the first term. With less than two weeks left to the competition, spirits are high and teams are rivaling to reach the top of the leaderboard. The spirit of the challenge is seeping into our whole community, led by our energetic students as they maximize their efforts in the water. 

Students practice rowing under the guidance of professional Dragon Boat coaches

The students struggle to scull together in the Xixi Wetlands and learn to sail forward in coordinated movement.

Team Building

Hangzhou CIS students are not only improving teamwork inside our campus, but off campus, too. In sports and academics, our students are connecting to each other and to the greater Hangzhou community. 

In sports, our Dream Teams are engaging in friendly matches around Hangzhou. Last week, the HZCIS basketball team met with Greentown Yuhua School for a swift and athletic game. The students struggled hard on the basketball court, and eventually Hangzhou CIS lost by only one point. At the same time, our Hangzhou CIS Volleyball Team traveled to Hangzhou International School for a volleyball match. Competition is helping our students to strengthen their character and relationships, and bringing them closer together with a shared sense of challenge. 

In academics, Hangzhou CIS Chinese Language and Literature students enthusiastically participated in a poetry recitation contest with Greentown Yuhua High School. Their generous and confident stage performance was unanimously recognized by the judges and eventually won the award for elegance. Collaboration classes also had a chance to engage in meaningful discussions with Greentown students about topics that affect Chinese students. In the early morning sunshine, CIS students and Yuhua students spoke freely and exchanged views on community service and school life, which opened a window to further understand the learning and life of local students.

Hangzhou CIS students and Greentown Yuhua students match up on the basketball court in friendly competition

Hangzhou CIS students also played in a friendly volleyball tournament with Hangzhou International School

Chinese Language and Literature students recite Chinese poetry at the Greentown Yuhua school poetry competition 

Hangzhou CIS students interacted with Greentown Yuhua students during Collaboration class, finding out about real topics related to their Humanities studies from local students.

Linking to the Community and Enriching Students Learning Experiences (Sept.23)

With the Mid-Autumn fragrance of sweet-scented osmanthus still in the air, students here at Hangzhou CIS continue to make rich connections between learning and the world around them. This week’s highlight was the launch of Hangzhou Links, our student-led community service program. Led by 12 enthusiastic student leaders with teacher assistance in the background, the Hangzhou Links program currently supports partnerships in 12 institutions, including China Grass-roots Football Association, The Nature Conservancy,  School for Children of Migrant Workers, Jinlin Reading Center, Autism Children's Center and Welfare Home for the Elderly. Earlier this month, the Links student leaders joined forces with Hangzhou Studios, our student-run film crew, to create trailer videos for all of the service centers. All students had a chance to watch the trailers, then chose service projects based on their personal interests and abilities. Tuesday, September 17th set the program into full swing, with students traveling to their chosen sites off campus. 

Student leadership has given community service a deeper level of meaning, and we have already received positive feedback from our community partners. Our student leaders are making a big difference in both the lives of their community partners and in the lives of their classmates, especially by cultivating their peers’ enthusiastic participation. While serving and making contributions to the service centers, Hangzhou CIS students are beginning to build their understanding of the community where they live. Their rewarding experiences in the community are beginning to offer a sense of fulfillment, as well as well as helping them to realize how important their knowledge and abilities are to others. The process has already increased students’ motivation to learn, and we anticipate an incredible amount of positive growth throughout the year with this program.                           

Students serve in kindergartens, migrant children's schools and other centers.

Students accompany the elderly in the assisted living center.

Students in The Nature Conservancy, Qingshan Village

The Second  Hangzhou Trip

On Thursday, students had another chance to travel off campus, this time for our second trip in the Chinese Connections series, "Ten Perfect Hangzhou Trips.” The purpose of this trip was to engage students in traditional craftsmanship at the Hangzhou Art and Crafts Museum. Students chose from traditional Hangzhou oil-paper umbrella making, oil-paper umbrella painting, plant dyeing, and making things using cold porcelain clay. Through these activities, the students not only contacted and learned a variety of traditional handicraft skills in Hangzhou, but also developed their imagination and creativity by producing their own original work.

Students learn how to make oil-paper umbrellas and how to paint oil-paper umbrellas.

Students use traditional chilled clay to make flowers, plants and personal creations

Students are learning to make traditional tie dye works, using grass and trees.


It was also a big week on campus for students, with major events happening in our Hangzhou CIS curriculum. On Monday and Wednesday, students finished their first round of Collaboration learning inquiries, and on Friday they launched into the world of interdisciplinary, collaborative learning. Students are now fully engrossed in three different Collaboration classes: Hangzhou Hawks, a collaboration of humanities, arts and design; Designing Social Change, a collaboration between design and humanities; and Science Alive, a science and drama collaboration. Two of these units are strengthened by the help of parent-experts, with students in Hangzhou Hawks and Science Alive receiving guidance from professionals in applicable fields. Our Hangzhou CIS community is grateful for this support, and we know that the students are reaping the benefits of their parents’ expertise and insights. 

In Hangzhou Hawks, students leapt at the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of business professionals via live video conferencing.

Discovery U Enterprise Innovation

On a final, exciting note,  12 students enrolled in the Discovery U Enterprise Innovation Team, led by teachers and Coach Mentors, went to Shanghai last Friday afternoon to attend the China Start-up Ecology Summit in 2019. They had face-to-face exchanges with many leaders of innovative enterprises and were deeply inspired by their interactions. Lead on, students!

Students participating in China's Initial Eco-Summit in Shanghai

Closing Comments

A week's time brought more color to the trees and more color to our students’ lives. We wish every student a bountiful harvest in the beautiful golden autumn season of Hangzhou.


Students celebrate Teachers' Day and Mid-Autumn Festival (Sept.16)

Teachers’ Day

Tuesday, September 11th marked the 35th annual Teachers' Day in China. Teachers’ Day is  very important in China, as students nationwide paused to offer thanks and give back to their educators. On Monday, HZCIS students displayed their gratitude with an original video of thanks to all of our teachers, and gave each teacher a homemade card filled with messages from every student in every House. The teachers felt overwhelmed by students’ appreciation and sincerity on this special day.

Students deliver homemade Teacher's Day thank you cards to happy teachers.

Mid-Autumn Festival

On Friday, HZCIS kicked off our Mid-Autumn Festival celebration by recording the song "The Moon Represents My Heart" for CIS students, parents, and teachers in Hong Kong. We sent sincere wishes for a happy festival to our Hong Kong family and friends.

Later that evening, our HZCIS family gathered together to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. Mr. Lynch’s witty and humorous speech set a delightful tone for the evening, followed by a variety of student-created talent and art performances. We watched together as students recited ancient poetry, sang Chinese songs, performed original raps in Chinese, and read poetry based on one month of life in Hangzhou. At the end of the program, our wonderful coach mentors surprised students with their own performance! Ms. Zhang closed the show with happy festival greetings to our whole community, and students got to enjoy moon cakes and a riddle contest at the end of the evening.

Mr. Lynch and Ms. Zhang offer their holiday wishes to the students.

A large crowd of people in a room

Description automatically generated

Students recite poems related to Moon

A group of people in a room

Description automatically generated

Students perform original raps in Chinese 

A group of people performing on stage in front of a crowd

Description automatically generated

Students sing Chinese songs such as "Recalling Jiangnan"

A group of people sitting in front of a crowd

Description automatically generated

Students read poems created for one month of life in Hangzhou.

Students enthusiastically guess the answers to traditional riddles


“Though far apart, we all share the beautiful moment when the bright moon rises above the sea.“ Gathered together as a family in HZ, HZCIS students spent an unforgettable Mid-Autumn Festival night.


Students appreciate the ancient rhyme of the Grand Canal (Sept.9)

Grand Canal

Hangzhou is a beautiful and storied city with a rich collection of important cultural landmarks. On Thursday, September 5th, HZCIS launched this year’s Connection  programme with a school trip to the 2500 year old Grand Canal, one Hangzhou’s three UNESCO World Heritage sites. The first stop on the tour was the featured GongChen arch bridge at the southernmost landmark of the canal from Beijing to Hangzhou. From there, we boarded three dragon boats and sailed to the West Lake Culture Square, where students and teachers admired the Grand Canal model set. After that, students enjoyed the beautiful sunset along the West Lake and interacted with local citizens. Heads and hearts filled with culture and beauty, teachers and students relaxed together at the end of the day by sharing a house meal with delicious local cuisine at Zhi Wei Guan, one of Hangzhou’s most famous restaurants.

Students exploring around the famed “GongChen”arch bridge.

Cruising the canal in traditional dragon boats

Students admiring the Grand Canal model set and engaging in modern city life at West Lake Cultural Plaza

Exchanging with Hangzhou citizens by the West Lake and tasting delicious Hangzhou food at ZhiWeiGuan

We all savored sunset by the West Lake, a momentary gift from nature.

Curriculum Update - Collaboration (Arts)

After 2 weeks of preparation and practice, this week witnessed the end of the first round of Collaboration classes. In Collaboration, students learn and grow together through interdisciplinary inquiry-based projects, engaging in stimulating classroom investigation and authentic cooperative learning tasks. Well done, students, and on to the next challenge!

Students showcase their artistic growth in China Changed, an interdisciplinary inquiry comprising visual art, film, drama, and music. 

Varsity Sports Update

Varsity Sports launched this week at HZCIS! The third floor Pandas scored wins in netball, volleyball, and rugby, with the fourth floor Qilin winning football. Our coaches complimented this year group’s incredibly high level of athletic skill, and they enjoyed the encouraging but competitive atmosphere in the sports arena. It was a superlative Saturday, with athletes sweating like wildfire and cheers ricocheting around the school from one court to another.


Less than three weeks after the start of our school year, our shared experiences at HZCIS are already taking deep root in the hearts of our school community. Through the trip to the ancient canal, modern square, and famous restaurant, our students are beginning to broaden their understanding Hangzhou’s rich history and culture, while building connections to China and to each other. Through deep study, students are already realizing the challenges and joys of creation. Through Varsity League sports, students are developing friendships and building character. After a great third week of school, what’s in store for this week? Stay tuned for more updates from HZCIS!


Chronicles of HZCIS 2018/19 by Hyning Gan Y11

Hyning Gan Y11, chronicles 2018/19 HZ in this video. Watch memories captured from each day of the unforgettable experience. Be sure to watch until the end for ‘end of year reflections’.