Continuing a recent tradition, Jarvis Middle School hosted 17 Chinese students and their teacher Nancy Liu in mid-January. (Note: Their visit was before the recent coronavirus outbreak, but as a precaution our staff reviewed their health records prior to their arrival.)
The sixth and seventh graders attend Bright Visions Education’s ESL (English as a Second Language) schools in Weifang and and nearby Laizhou, China. The region is about 300 miles southeast of Beijing and boasts a population of more than 9 million people.
Each student was paired with a Jarvis student. Together, they attended classes and ate lunch. At the end of the day, students exchanged small gifts representing their respective countries. The experience of interacting with someone from a different culture, struggling through the language barrier, and learning that we share a common humanity despite our outward differences cannot be duplicated in a regular classroom setting.
The day can be trying. Jarvis students know no Chinese, and the Chinese students speak little-to-some English. Despite the language barrier, students found ways to communicate and share their interests. By the end of the day, many students had become inseparable friends—even to the point of a few tears when it came time to say goodbye.
“One of our district’s pillars is community and this experience helps our students understand that community extends beyond The Valley, our state, and even our county,” said Superintendent Jeremy Rich.