By He Xiaping, trip coordinator
On July 19, 40 students, two teachers and two school administrators from Loudi No. 1 Middle School, Hunan Province, along with their vice principal, director and two other English teachers were greeted by their host families at Fourth Baptist Church School in Plymouth. Thus began their nine-day visit to Minnesota, a trip they have been vying for with hundreds of other students from Loudi during the past year.
This group of students (equivalent of U.S. high school freshmen) were selected from the school’s international study classes. Their participation is voluntary and their families paid all their trip expenses.
The cultural aspects of their visit were put into effect as they experienced private and public class. For example, bible and U.S history classes at Fourth Baptist Church School; math and geography classes at the Minnesota Internship Center, a Loudi partner school in North Minneapolis .
Their host families dropped them off at 9 a.m. and picked them up at 5 p.m. each day. Over the course of the week, the Loudi students participated in a host of activities after attending classes in the morning: MN Lynx Women’s WNBA game at Target Center, Wells Fargo Museum, school tours, George Latimer Central Library in St. Paul, Common Zoo Park, volunteered for nonprofit Feed My Starving Children, and Fort Snelling. On the weekends, all visitors spent time with their host families to become learn more about each other’s cultures. The Chinese students were welcomed as part of their host families and participated in activities that a typical American family would normally do on weekends, such as attending Sunday church service, doing some outdoor activities and doing a little shopping. There was also an ice cream social that was enjoyed by all who attended.
The visit concluded with a farewell reception. The students received their certificates of attendance at Fourth Baptist Church School and returned to China on July 28.
All travel arrangements were handled by Fourth Baptist Church School Principal Allyson Hodak and Minnesota Internship Center Principal Kevin Byrne and staff at both schools. Thanks to them for an amazing job of organizing this event.
China Insight and its China education affiliate, Global Learning Alliance, were honored to assist in coordinating this visit. Richard He, president of China Insight and Global Learning Alliance, is originally from Loudi city and continues to be committed to ensure these visits take place to provide an experience that everyone would remember, and that cross cultural exchanges could continue to take place. The generosity of host families is especially important in such an exchange. So, a very hearty thanks to all who opened their homes to the Loudi visitors.
Editor’s note: He Xianping, a native of Loudi, is a graduate of St. Cloud State University and acted as the trip coordinator and tour guide for this group of visitors from Loudi. The summer camp program from Lloudi’s No. 1 Middle School began in 2007. Students from Eden Prairie High School visited Loudi in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
Several Loudi students submitted reflections of their trip and their impressions of America. These will be in the October issue of China Insight. You may be surprised by their observations and never take some things for granted again.