GREENWICH, Conn. – Greenwich High School students taking Mandarin Chinese got an opportunity to put their language skills to the test Tuesday as the school welcomed 38 students and teachers from Beijing.
The Chinese students toured the school in the morning with their American counterparts, then had an "all-American lunch" of fried chicken and sandwiches from Chicken Joe's. During lunch, the Chinese students were visited by Superintendent of Schools William McKersie and Greenwich High Headmaster Chris Winters.
The students, who represent the top public high school in China, noted that Greenwich High was "big," "crowded" and that the people were "very friendly."
"I see you students from China as leaders," McKersie said, his comments translated into Mandarin by Greenwich High teacher Lin Young. "I have young children and I want them to be in a world where your leaders are working with our leaders to make a very strong world."
A Chinese representative gave Winters a decorative plate to commemorate the group's visit.
Greenwich High's Mandarin Level-Two teacher, Ann Kuang, encouraged her students to ask their Chinese peers questions in Mandarin, questions about everyday life, how much homework they have, and who their favorite movie star is.
"It's a great experience for my students," Kuang said. "Most of them have never been to China, so this is great to meet teenagers and high school students from China. This is the first time for many of them meeting a Chinese person their same age."
Marley MacDougal, a Greenwich High Mandarin student who helped lead the Chinese group on the morning tour, said the meeting of the two cultures was an invaluable experience.
"We got to use our Chinese skills that we've been working on for the past few years in ways that just aren't imaginable," she said. "I've definitely improved my Chinese skills even just in this day – and I've made friends."
The Beijing students also visited schools in Bedford, N.Y. and Mamaroneck, N.Y. Next, the students will visit Yale University and the Woodbury Commons outlet in XXXX before returning to China.