1,000 US students to visit Shanghai

Updated: 2012-09-21 21:53

By WANG HONGYI (chinadaily.com.cn)

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More communication, exchange and interaction activities are expected between US students and disabled children in Shanghai in the future.

The US-based NGO People To People International said it plans to have more than 1,000 US students visit China next year.

In addition to visiting different cities across the country and tasting local culture and life, the US students will visit a special-education school in Shanghai, where students will carry out a series of interactive activities with disabled children.

"It's a good chance for foreign students to get a better understanding of China. US students will get a closer look at China's life and culture," said Claire Ma, the organization's China general manager.

"They will not only communicate with students from China's ordinary schools, but also can visit local special-education schools, which could give them a better understanding of the country's education system. Also, everyone will have a good time with these interaction activities," Ma told China Daily on Friday.

People to People International, founded by then-US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, aims to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures. Its programs are open to students aged 11 to 18.

In recent years, more than 7,000 US students have come to China.

"It's a life-changing trip to China," said 12-year-old Dylan Keeler, of Texas, who joined the People-to-People Ambassador program in July. "China is quite different from what I thought before.

"I have talked to a variety of people in China and learned about local traditions and culture in China. I'm glad that I can have an in-depth understanding about the country by myself," he said.

Keeler, along with more than 40 other students from Texas, went from Shanghai to Suzhou, in Jiangsu province, and the famous water town of Wuzhen, in Zhejiang province.

"I can see the fun and joy on the faces of these children. They are enjoying their life, and teachers here do well with them," teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki said when she visited the Qixing Special Education School in Shanghai.

Mieliwocki, who teaches English to seventh-graders in Los Angeles County, California, was crowned the 2012 National Teacher of the Year by US President Barack Obama earlier this year.

It's her first trip to China, which was under an education and culture exchange program under the organization. In addition to the Qixing school, she has also visited some high schools in Beijing and Shanghai last week.

"It's my first time to come to China, and it's a wonderful trip. During my days in China, I see that students in both countries are sharing and facing similar issues," she said.

"In regard to special education, China has a different approach than the US. I think both has their own strengths and weaknesses," she said. "I'm glad to have this chance to come close to the country."