Students bring Chinese culture to US high schools

Updated: 2016-02-10 04:39

By HUA SHENGDUN in Washington(China Daily USA)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Students bring Chinese culture to US high schools

Kelly Flaherty (first from left), a recent Harvard graduate talks about her college campus life hoping the students can learn more about college life in America at the Ameson Foundation in Washington on Feb 1. PAN JIALIANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

Keqing Lu, a high school student in Jiangsu province, was amazed by how different US high school life is after she saw her new American friends partying, driving and playing sports after school.

Lu is among almost 200 Chinese Sino-American Youth Ambassadors (SAYA), students from six high schools in Jiangsu who were selected for the program by the Ameson Education and Cultural Exchange Foundation (AECEF).

“I was most impressed by that there are so many sports they can choose, and that they have a social life just like a college student,” Lu said at a reception for the program on Monday at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.

SAYA participants also performed for the children of Triangle Tots Daycare, bringing them into contact with Chinese culture, possibly for the first time, according to Ameson’s press release.

“I wish my mom could teach me some dance like that,” a third grader said while he was watching a group of Chinese high school students dancing to Chinese pop music.

Current American college students and recent graduates presented their campus experiences to the Chinese college-bound students who will likely be studying at US institutions in the future.

Students bring Chinese culture to US high schools

Sino-American Youth Ambassadors (SAYA) students host a traditional Chinese cultural performance for a local childcare facility, which services children from 3-6 years old whose parents are employed in the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building on Feb 1 at Ameson Education and Cultural Foundation in Washington. SAYA is a cultural exchange program organized by the Ameson Foundation for Chinese high school students. PAN JIALIANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

The program is in its sixth year, and several groups are visiting the United States, some of which will be reaching out to the local Washington community through song, dance and other traditional Chinese art forms after Monday, according to Nathan Montgomery, communication manager for AECEF.

The Chinese students will spend two weeks in the US. In the first week, they will go to a high school in North Carolina to experience American high school life and teach Chinese. They will come back to Washington for a city tour the second week, Montgomery said.

Chinese students are carefully screened and selected by the Ameson Foundation, according to Xiaodi Zhu, deputy manager of AECEF.

“Prior to going to the US, the students focus on studying American politics, history and economics,” a teacher from Changshu High School said.

They also prepare presentations on Chinese culture. Their US high school visits are designed to help them share Chinese culture while they immerse themselves in American culture, according to the teacher.

Open to both American and Chinese students, SAYA is designed to bring greater international awareness and cultural diversity to high school campuses, with students serving as cultural ambassadors, according to Desiree Williamson, international program officer at AECEF.

Exchanges usually occur during holiday breaks, which fall at different places in the semester between China and the West. That allows both Chinese and American students to experience high school life abroad and contribute to the internationalization of campuses in both countries, Williamson said.

“I want to apply for an American college when I graduate from high school. Because, in that way, I can be exposed to a diverse cultural environment so that I can have a more international perspective,” said Yichen Deng, who is in his first year at Changshu High School.

Pan Jialiang in Washington contributed to this story.