Exchange with Iowa Students Builds Friendship

ByZheng Jinran and Zhang Yu March 22, 2024
US students from Muscatine High School paint with Chinese students during a visit to Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School in Hebei Province in January. [China Daily]


About 60 US students from Muscatine, Iowa state, will visit several cities in China in April to experience Chinese culture and continue the friendship between the people of the two countries.

"This is an exchange visit that we have conducted for over 10 years, and our students are eagerly looking forward to accompanying their peers and bonding with them," said Pei Hongxia, principal of Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School based in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province.

The school launched a program in October under which a dozen of its students and teachers took part in a study tour and in-depth exchanges with students studying Chinese at Muscatine High School in this Midwestern state.

"The Friendship Inheritance Study Program was initiated for students to retrace the routes that President Xi Jinping took during his visits to Iowa in 1985 and in 2012, and for them to advance and expand the friendship," Pei said.

Muscatine, a city in Iowa on the banks of the Mississippi River in the United States, has been home to the nearly four-decade friendship between Xi and local residents.

During the weeklong visit expected next month, students from Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School will act as one-on-one partners accompanying the US students during their activities scheduled in Beijing and Shijiazhuang. In addition, the US students will visit Xi'an in Shaanxi Province and Shanghai.

In Shijiazhuang, they are expected to experience China's school life and participate in multiple activities such as learning calligraphy and paper-cutting skills, watching intangible cultural heritage performances and touring scenic spots showing traditional Chinese architecture.

"Via the comprehensive and in-depth experience in China, they can have a better understanding of Chinese culture and witness China's latest achievements in development," Pei said.

"When we were in the US last year, we presented some performances such as Chinese kung fu and traditional dances, which the US students were deeply interested in," said Cui Yihang, one of the student members of the Friendship Inheritance Study Program.

Cui added that their US friends expressed a strong willingness to come to China and explore more.

"The exchanges have enhanced our friendship. I look forward to the continuation of the friendship inheritance program and hope that more students from Iowa can visit," he said.

In November 2023, Xi announced a program to invite 50,000 US youths to China over the next five years for exchanges and study.

In January, more than 20 Muscatine High School students paid a visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hebei, among other places in China, becoming the first group of US students to visit China under the program.

They also visited the school in Shijiazhuang, where teachers and students from both sides painted a 45-meter scroll featuring Chinese and US landmarks and scenery to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US.

"A pair of Chinese and US students wrote a heartfelt wish in a Chinese poem containing lines such as 'though the ocean may separate us, we are never far apart'," Pei said.

According to Pei, the Shijiazhuang-based school has established friendly relationships with 36 schools across 17 states in the US.

Future trips have been planned. In May, the school's symphony orchestra will visit one of its friendship schools in the US, Valley High School in Des Moines, Iowa, to hold a joint Chinese and US student concert.

"In the future, our school will further enhance exchanges with US schools and invite more US youths to visit our school," Pei said, adding that the exchanges will help build a platform for nurturing friendship and promoting mutual learning.


(Source: China Daily)


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