HUDSON — Mandarin was heard through the halls for several days this month as Hudson High School and nine host families hosted 16 students and two teachers from Zhoupu High School in Shanghai, China.
The Zhoupu High School students were here on a visit as part of a U.S. tour lasting 13 days, including New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.
Hudson is no stranger to Zhoupu High School, which hosted Hudson students enrolled in Chinese classes in the summer of 2018, and signed an agreement to officially be sister schools there as well. The International Partnership of Education Research and Communications (IPERC) in Columbus facilitates the travel relationship between several schools in the U.S. and in China, and works with HHS and Zhoupu High School as well.
In the 2018 trip, Hudson students were in China for 12 days, four of them in Shanghai. In addition to visiting Zhoupu High School, the Hudson students shared cultural experiences including tours to parts of Shanghai. Stops included the Yu Garden, the Tianzifang arts district, the Nanjing Road shopping district, The Bund waterfront, and Zhujiajiao Water Town, also known as "Shanghai’s Venice."
Principal Brian Wilch said the goals of the Chinese students’ visit included "sightseeing, sharing educational experiences and ideas, exploring each other's cultures and promoting friendly school/student/teacher exchanges, world-wide."
Additionally, he hoped the visit would lay a foundation of mutual friendship and communication, and that Zhoupu students, with the help of their hosts, would be able to experience American culture through a "school lens" as well.
Director of Zhoupu High School Xue Guo Qing said his students, all around age 16-17, will be able to see the cultural differences and said his goal is "to bring the students a brilliant future and after they have seen the good parts of American education and culture, they can also remember and keep this in their life."
After a welcome reception for their arrival at HHS on Oct. 1, an American-style barbecue was held the next night, and the Zhoupu students shadowed HHS students to their classes for the week. Outside of school hours, host families opened their homes and dinner tables, along with showing them some northeast Ohio attractions.
Zhoupu student Yao Yu Yang described his first impressions as all positive ones, and said he was impressed with the school.
"It is so huge, and the students here are very enthusiastic," he said.
Zhang Mei Yi hoped she will be able to make friends and learn about American history, buildings, and culture.
"I want to learn how they live here, with their friends and their teachers, how their daily life is," she said.
Hudson High School junior Annabel Sachtleben, who is at the fourth of five levels of Chinese instruction offered at the school, was a first-time host. She took her guests to experience American culture as she lives it; this includes going to the mall, Szalay’s Market, bowling, thrift shopping, and football games.
Sachtleben also comments how she is looking forward to seeing how their English progresses as her Chinese improves.
Junior Alaina Landefeld, is in the same class as Sachtleben, referred to their previous trip to China and said this should be a good experience for their guests.
"It’s definitely cool, especially since we visited them at the sister school, so it’ll be cool for them to see what our school is like."
Wilch said Hudson High School Chinese students will likely benefit from another trip to China in the coming years.
"Given China's growing economy and potential for trade/commerce, students who enter the business field or any form of international studies would benefit from these types of exchange programs while in school — and while studying Mandarin Chinese as a World Language choice," he said.
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