Last week, Center Grove had a few extra students roaming the halls. Foreign exchange students from China arrived to Center Grove as part of the Sino-American Youth Ambassador Exchange Program (SAYA).
The SAYA students originally were supposed to arrive Monday, February 9, but a series of misfortunate events delayed their arrival. Once they finally came to Center Grove, their schedule had to be packed down from five days into a mere three days. The exchange students found Center Grove and American culture to be quite different from theirs. Each of the students took on a different name for their visit.
“My favorite part was the people,” a student who took the name of Elvin said. “They are more talkative and more friendly.”
The band of students were part of an international studies group in their school. According to Jessie, the name chosen by another student, in China they have eight classes in one day. Classes take place in a single classroom and the school day lasts from 7 a.m until 9 p.m.
While these students were experiencing new things, they affected the Center Grove environment as well. According to Christopher Blackburn, Chinese foreign language teacher, the experience he had with the exchange students would be useful to his teaching in the future. The SAYA students also impacted his teaching within the classroom.
“Having my students actually being able to interact with the Chinese students was very beneficial to their learning of the language,” said Blackburn.
John Frank, Advanced Placement United States History teacher, housed Liu Jia, the teacher of the group of SAYA students, during their time here. The students’ daily routine was very different than what they were used to at home.
“Liu was fascinated with the different colors of paint on houses and how we individually own homes,” Frank said. “She was also surprised at the number and size of the churches in America.”
Junior Andrew Cheng helped the foreign exchange students find their way around the school. Cheng related the feelings he had when he first came to America as a young child to the foreign exchange students. “Interacting with them reminded me of myself when I had lived in China,” said Cheng.
The students will travel to Washington D.C as well as New York City next as a part of their trip. A student who chose the name Anastasia summarized the experience for the group saying, “I have enjoyed all aspects of the trip”.