Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

October 12, 2012

SLS students experience a new culture

BATESVILLE — St. Louis School students and staff are experiencing another culture thanks to America Project Hope, an international student exchange program.

Since the beginning of school in August, seven students from Handan, China, have been enrolled in grades 7-8. They, along with their teacher, are staying with host families until the end of October. They are enjoying their stay in Indiana, since this is their first trip to the United States.

Each of the visitors has taken an English name. The teacher is known as Miss Pony because her family name means horse. She says, “I have two main tasks. The first is to help the students keep pace with their homework in China. Every week I collect their homework to see if they did it or not.

“Second, I have to teach the students here at St. Louis something about Chinese culture .... I hope they will be interested in it, and someday when they grow up they can pay a visit to China or learn Chinese.”

She has noticed some differences between the two nations. “Here, you are living in houses. In China, you live in apartments. You don’t have any buses or taxis here and you never take trains. In China, for everyday travels, we can ride bikes, ride the bus, and for longer distances we can take a train.”

Regarding eating habits, “In China, we have a totally different style. We are used to having more vegetables and rice. We never eat butter or cheese. We do have Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, so I knew some about the American food.”

Pony says her favorite American food is tacos. “I once had Texas straw hats. I love this kind of food.” She also enjoys spaghetti, barbecue and mashed potatoes. “They are delicious.”

While going on several shopping trips, the educator also discovered “things here are much cheaper .... If I want to buy a pair of jeans in China, it’s at least $100. Here, I only spend $60 for two.”

The students - Kathy, Mary, Louis, Ann, David, Barry and Sam - have learned a lot about this country’s culture and some of the differences between it and their nation. Louis reveals the school day is much longer in China, and “we have a nap at school.” They also go to school six days a week.

Kathy adds, “In China, we don’t change classrooms every class. Only the teachers change.”

David had the opportunity to attend a wedding. “In China, we have weddings in a restaurant. In America, we have a meal and party stuff and you can dance .... The wife throws the flowers over her head.

“I like American religion because they believe in God. It’s very interesting to learn even though sometimes I can’t understand what they’re talking about.”

For birthday parties in the Asian country, Ann recalls, “We always go to a restaurant. In America, we just stay at home.”

Mary reports, “There are a lot of people in our family, and they always have a family party.”

Barry announces the most challenging aspect is the language. However, the students have adjusted well. He will always remember the people he has met. Sam says his fondest memory is being a part of the soccer team.

Alex Stone, whose family is hosting David, says, “During fall break, we’re going to Florida and Disney World.”

SLS students have enjoyed getting to know their new classmates. “They learn stuff a lot sooner than we do,” Haley Chaffee notes. Jodi Johnson adds, “Their stuff is a lot harder than ours in America.” Jessica Raver reports, “In China, they take English for a class.”

Sophie Meadows reveals, “I thought they adapted very well .... sooner than I would.”

The exchange students have also attended extracurricular events. Lupe Blanco observes, “I’ve seen them go to soccer and football games and dances, and them being there is really fun.”

SLS teacher Sherri Kirschner remarks, “The American students are explaining certain things for them. I find it interesting that our students are becoming teachers.”

Diane Raver can be contacted at 812-934-4343, Ext. 114; or diane.raver@ batesvilleheraldtribune.com. To comment on stories, visit batesvilleheraldtribune.com.

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