Story by Kaitlin Lyman
Every Feb., West students are given the opportunity to host Chinese students coming from China. If paid for, any level of Chinese student can travel to China for 10 days.
For almost a decade, West has been exchanging students with the Chang’an School #1 from Xi’an, China. The Missouri state supervisor for the Kansas City region, Dr. Tony Stansberry, wanted Lee’s Summit high schools to become internationally competitive. With the help of Heping Zhan, an engineer working for Lee’s Summit who used to live in China, both were able to organize an exchange between Xi’an and Lee’s Summit.
Pointing out some advantages to the exchange, Summit Lakes Principal Dr. David Carlson said, “We want our students to be able to compete internationally. Chinese is becoming an international language. It’s a great opportunity to have students learn about other cultures and become more international. Kids that travel get to see China, with thousands of years of history.” Compared to America, which only has a few hundred of years of history, China is a treasure trove of ancient fact.
However, travelling can be disconcerting for some. As a student who travelled to China in the year 2014, North Sophomore Claire Neighbors said, “It gets you out of your comfort zone, traveling to another country. On the other hand, you discover what you really have a passion for.”
Fortunately, traveling to China isn’t the only way to make connections to the Chinese. Students that can’t afford to go to China can still host a Chinese student for the week that they stay in Lee’s Summit. In that short a period of time, emails are exchanged with promises to keep in touch. “They benefit the most from making a friend on the other side of the world. Many students stay in touch for years,” said Dr. Carlson.
Many Chinese students are also able to experience things that they would otherwise not be able to. A Grade 2 Chinese student from Chang’an School #1, Li Kai lin said, “I was looking forward to understanding your classes and daily life the most.” Because of such differences in daily life and culture, the Chinese students must be able to adapt adequately to the changes. “Because it can broaden my horizons and help me learn things outside my talents,” Li said is the reason for her coming to the US.
Every Chinese student had a favorite part about coming to America. Grade 2 Chinese student Du Wei said, “My favorite part was meeting everyone.”