BFA Chinese Student Exchange Makes a Lasting Impact

Target 4Engaged Community Partners: FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step – Develop partnerships with global partners to carry out a project related to units of study.

This week BFA student Victoria Brown became a paid professional journalist for the very first time! Victoria’s writing was featured this month in KidsVT and she recounted her summer experience hosting a student from China in her home.

I had convinced my family to take part in my school’s SPIRAL International exchange program. Over the course of the two-week camp, my American classmates and I would mentor Chinese students, teaching them English and taking them on field trips. At the end of each day, they’d come home with us.

This was a first for my family. But I’d been wanting to host exchange students ever since I heard about the SPIRAL program from my friends who participated last year. I was curious about these kids, their language, and their culture.

Victoria stated that she has been part of BFA’s exchange program for the past two summers. BFA has hosted over 30 students from China. The program requires families who choose to participate to open their homes and hearts to students from China. The students come to learn English and absorb American culture, but they also end up teaching us so much about their culture and language as well.

As the days went by, I began to feel more comfortable with everyone. I chose to sit with the exchange students, rather than with my fellow mentors, whenever we rode the bus. I liked hearing how different their schools are — in China the school day goes until 10 p.m., with a break halfway through for a nap. My new friends were fascinating. The best part? They seemed as interested in me as I was in them. Every time I taught them an English word, they’d teach me the Chinese version. We were learning together.

At the program’s closing ceremony, it was hard to keep myself from crying. I broke down afterward while hugging my new friends, knowing I might never see them again. Yumy and Jojo had quickly become much more than my mentees, classmates and friends; they felt like family. I hadn’t expected to become so close to them, and neither had the rest of my family. When Yumy and Jojo returned to China, it took us a few weeks to get used to life without them.

Victoria’s international journey in life is only just beginning  This summer she plans on attending the People-to-People Celtic Cultures Exchange in Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. We are all proud to have Victoria as an ambassador from our school and community.

When BFA started the Chinese student exchange, our hope was to open the world a little to our students. Little did we know the profound effect we have had on the lives of all who were or will be involved in the exchange.

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