For the second time in less than a year, Madison County families and the school system played hosts to students from China’s Binzhou school district.
The first such “exchange program” event took place last summer, when 18 students and two teachers traveled to Madison County for two weeks in July. Earlier, five Madison County teachers went to the Binzhou school district, where they observed and taught classes.
This time around, 10 students — seven boys and three girls — were selected by Binzhou to travel to the county for ten days (Feb. 3 through 13) where they were hosted by Madison County families. Each of the students chose American names to use while in the United States.
Melody Christian, who was one of the teachers who traveled to China last summer, and her family hosted “Robin,” while Homeless and Migrant Program Specialist Loren Metts and her family hosted “Tom.”
Metts, who has four sons, said Tom had a blast, particularly bonding with her son Adam, who was of a similar age and who Tom shared some of his classes with. They took him to basketball games, Rush Trampoline, CiCi’s Pizza and the Dairy Queen, all in the first few days.
“We picked him up on a Friday, so we had a full weekend with him before they went to school on Monday,” she said.
Though communication was sometimes difficult, Metts said they learned to work around it with apps such as “We Chat” and Google Translate.
“He really wanted to eat steak, so we went over how to use a knife and fork,” she said. All the students brought gifts for their host families and Tom brought a tea set, some ornate boxes and chop sticks. The Metts family gave the chopsticks a try too, eating a meal of spaghetti and salad with them. She said Tom also wanted to eat a lot of sweets, apparently something students don’t get a lot of at home.
“One request he made was ‘no rice, please,’” she said laughing. “I think he gets enough of that at home.”
Metts said they really strived to give Tom lots of opportunities to experience being an American kid for a while.
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Ten Chinese students from the Binzhou school district visited Madison County High School in February, going to class while staying with host families. The students also picked American names to use during their visit. Pictured (L-R) after a basketball game with some of their new Madison County friends are “Tom,” Adam Metts, “Jack,” Harrison Kirkland, Kale Anderson and “Daniel.” Photo courtesy of Loren Metts
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