Chinese students gather in Washington
Updated: 2015-02-19 12:21
By Hua Shengdun in Washington(China Daily USA)
High school students from China met with their American peers while on a holiday tour in the United States under a cultural exchange-program initiated by the Washington-based Ameson Foundation. Provided to China Daily
To Zhang Qiyu, a high school student from Jiangsu, China, everything in the United States seemed new as he celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year with his American peers in Washington.
"It's my first time to spend the Spring Festival outside of my city, let alone overseas," said Zhang, a freshman at the Yangzhou Middle School. He made the holiday tour visit to US schools and cultural spots in preparation for applying to a US college in two years.
Experiencing what he said was his American classmates' misinterpretation of China when he sat in classes at the Center Grove High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, last week, Zhang decided to show the real China to them. "So I made presentations in class, talking about my home and personal understandings of my country," he said.
Zhang said he gave a 1 1/2-hour talk in one class because "they were so eager to know about modern China".
About 50 students from Yangzhou, Jinan, and Changshu in China are visiting and studying for two weeks in the US. It is being done under the auspices of the sixth annual Sino-American Youth Ambassadors exchange, a program initiated by the Ameson Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit education and cultural exchange organization.
Cities on the tour this year include Washington, Philadelphia, New York and several on the West Coast.
Sean Zhang, executive vice-chairman of the foundation, said the program started in 2010, and seeks to deepen mutual understanding between Chinese and American students.
By attending classes and living with host families of their peers, Chinese students can experience a "real American life", he said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice President Joe Biden met the SAYA students in Los Angeles in 2012.
Huang Tingyu, a student from Yangzhou, felt "homesick but excited at the same time", and she is determined to apply to US colleges.
"I will go on exploring in DC in the following days, and I hope I could come back one day," Huang said.
Jennifer Yen, a Chinese-language teacher at the Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, brought a group of 16 students to the Chinese New Year party.
"I hope they can sift a real Chinese way of life out of textbooks," Yen said.
Kira Lee, who is of part Chinese origin, has studied Chinese at the Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington for five years, said it's interesting to see Chinese folk dances and to make dumplings.
Huang Tingyu, a student from Yangzhou, said she felt "homesick but excited at the same time", and she had decided to apply to US colleges.
"I will go on exploring in DC in the following days, and I hope I can come back one day," Huang said.
As a part of the exchange program, since last year American students also have traveled to China and received classes on Chinese language and culture in the local high schools.
Sheng Yang in Washington contributed to this story.