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ave you ever been to China? Take it from me if you haven’t, it’s big. A train ride from Hong

Kong in the south to Mongolia in the north will take you weeks without even puting a foot onto a station platform. You would pass through paddy fields, past mighty dams and monasteries which lean precariously off the side of mountains, testaments to China’s eternal quest to tame its own landscape. This quest started with the Xia emperors diverting the Yellow River to avoid flooding and, rather unromantically, reaches its current incarnation in the vast industrial cities which squat across China’s landscape. You’ll pass through some of these cities for sure and I can also promise you that, unless you’re an ardent Sinophile, you and no one you know will have ever heard of half of them. Qingdao is one such city. It’s a bustling

industrial metropolis in north east China of some 8.7 million inhabitants which merrily churns out the raw materials and hard goods which have formed the backbone of China’s economic boom of the last twenty years. Globally, it has some recognition for its brewing industry and within Shandong province it enjoys the reputation of a not unpleasant seaside resort. Think Burton-On-Trent-On-Sea. Let’s get off at this stop, shall we?

Stretch our legs a litle and see if we can find something of interest in Qingdao. Street after street reveals litle to wonder at and we walk on until, like a mirage, we come across something we really didn’t expect to see here. We come across a fully operational English independent school. We come across Malvern College Qingdao, rising from the ground like some modernist interpretation of Florence. To be honest, it’s really quite tasteful. And yet, as a concept, it is hardly

remarkable. Since Harrow set sail for the East in 1997 and landed in Bangkok, a number of independent schools have opened up across Asia and, more recently, the Middle East. The most enthusiastic of these has been Dulwich College with

Ted Underwood has over 13 years’ experience in international education as a teacher, manager and marketer. He is now schools’

TOP: "Malvern College Qingdao rises from the ground like some modernist interpretation of Florence. To be honest, it's really quite tasteful"

director at Oak Tree International, a student recruitment and consultancy company for independent schools.

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