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Chester County Press

Upland welcomes exchange students from Beijing

02/18/2015 10:28AM ● By Richard Gaw

Upland Country Day School in Kennett Square recently hosted four students from Beijing, China for five days through the Sisters International Education and Exchange Foundation in Chadds Ford.

Every year in January and early February, when all schools in China have a one-month winter break, groups of students from middle schools and high schools travel to spend one or two weeks in schools in the United States. Upland was selected as one of the schools to host the students in the Pennsylvania area.

Upland hosted four boys in sixth, seventh and eighth grades for the week. The goal of their stay and the program is for the exchange students to gain an understanding of how U.S. schools and classes operate, to observe teacher and students interaction, practice their English and to experience American culture through home stays. The students stayed with Upland families during the week. The program is also an avenue to expose Chinese culture and language to Upland students.

Visiting Upland were 11-year-old Ruibo Hong (Ray), 13-year-olds Cao Zi Rui (Billy) and Chen Hanlun (Henry), and 15-year-old Fangyue Dong (Vista). The boys each go by their native Chinese name and American names at home in Beijing. They all began learning English at 4 years old, and were proficient enough the language to participate in Upland’s history, math, English and science classes.

Coming from the city of Beijing, and a large school with classes of up to 50 students and 15 classes per grade, the boys were impressed with the small class size and country setting of Upland’s campus.

While at Upland, they tried to spend time with each grade, sharing their culture. They visited with Upland first graders who were studying and preparing for Chinese New Year. Each of the first graders had prepared questions for their Chinese visitors and were surprised to learn that they had very similar interests. When not in school, the Chinese boys enjoy playing basketball, listening to music, spending time with friends, and playing video games. They also taught the Upland students
While at Upland, the boys attended classes, participated in winter track and attended a Valentine dance before leaving to tour Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York and Boston before returning home to China.