|Excited Gansu students touch a Moon rock at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Wednesday. [Photo/ China Daily]|
Touching the moon and getting closer to the stars, 48 middle and elementary school students from Gansu province visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Wednesday, the first stop on a week-long NBA training camp with the San Antonio Spurs.
"At home I have always wondered what it's like to be on the moon and stars. I have touched the moon now. Here I feel I am very close to the moon and stars," exclaimed Ma Cai-xia, a fifth grade girl, after touching a moon stone and viewing the moon landing exhibition.
This is exactly what the organizers hope for, said Xie Jianhua, president of the Gansu Aesthetic Education Promotion Association, the non-profit organization that is hosting the program along with Future Sifang Group, an auction house based in Lanzhou, Gansu.
"We always think that arts and sports are very important for children to grow up happy," said Xie. "We want to open another window for children with limited opportunities to take a look at the world.
"My dream is to help them to fulfill their dreams. Often it's just a small step for us to provide such opportunities, but it could impact a child's whole life," Xie added.
Since 2007, the association has been dedicated to providing such opportunities to children from the remote and poor countryside of Gansu by taking them to visit other countries to widen their horizon. In January 2018, about 100 Gansu students visited and trained with the Cleveland Cavaliers in Ohio.
Despite their jet lag, the children touched the moon rock, viewed displays of astronauts, the Space Shuttle and moon landing, and interacted with various space-related games and devices.
"The astronauts look exactly as I imagined. They look so vivid as if they were real. I played the game to touch the moon with a laser. It used mirrors to reflect the laser onto the moon. It was a lot of fun," said elementary student He Yangkun.
Middle school student Ma Yiran said that not only was the visit fun, but she also got to practice her English by talking to American visitors. "I have used all the English I have learned so far and I feel that I have already made some progress speaking English," she said.
The children are mostly from Linxia, one of the poorest remote cities in China. "We just want to give the children more opportunities to exchange with Americans. The NBA is a well-known brand and I am sure it will inspire the children a lot," said Qu Jinye, chairman of Future Sifang Group.
The children will visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Friday before heading to San Antonio to join the Spurs on Saturday for the basketball training program, which is titled "Love: Because of You".
(Source: China Daily)