Chinese students visit NCSSM for week of cultural exchange

Students from Hangzhou Foreign Languages School and NCSSM work together in a science class during the students’ weeklong visit.

High school students from China spent the week at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics meeting American students, participating in classes, and sharing some of each others’ culture. The third annual visit from the Hangzhou Foreign Languages School in China was hosted by NCSSM’s Department of Humanities and the Chinese Program as part of the Global Understanding Program partnership. Instructors Hong Li, Kyle Hudson, and Nai-I Finney organized the exchange visit. 

The visiting students shadowed NCSSM students and participated in sessions in which students worked together on research projects and discussed topics ranging from cultural similarities and differences to environmental science and population dynamics. “Both the American and Chinese students have enjoyed learning about each other and building friendships,” says NCSSM instructor Kyle Hudson, who helped organize this week’s exchange. “Exchanges like this allow students to build deep cross-cultural understanding that equips them to be future leaders in an increasingly interconnected world.”

Students also made time for fun and sightseeing, from swing dancing with NCSSM’s Swing Dance Club to a tour of the new fabrication lab. Students also toured area universities and other attractions in the Raleigh-Durham area.

A highlight of the weeklong visit was an evening Chinese New Year celebration. Members of the NCSSM Chinese Program sang songs in Chinese, the NCSSM Orchestra performed two pieces, and the visiting students sang, danced, and performed traditional arts.

See photos from the Chinese New Year celebration on Facebook.

Watch video of NCSSM students performing a Chinese anthem.

This week’s exchange builds upon a three-year partnership which has included long-distance videoconferencing exchanges as well as in-person collaboration between the schools. In weekly interactive video lessons and discussions between schools, students and instructors explore issues ranging from family values, school experiences, and the college application process in the U.S. and China to politics, philosophy, music and culture, and environmental issues. The program’s success has been featured in articles in China Daily and a publication of the Asia Society, and NCSSM instructors Hong Li and Kyle Hudson presented on the Global Understanding Program at a national conference. 

In addition to the shared virtual classroom, the collaboration has included annual face-to-face exchange programs for students, as well as instructor exchange programs. Last summer, NCSSM instructors Kyle Hudson and Phillip Riggs traveled to Hangzhou to teach Chinese middle school students about American culture and holidays at a camp held on the HFLS Entel campus, and in 2014, HFLS physics teacher Dr. Ying Liu completed a two-month residency at NCSSM, observing science classes and shadowing NCSSM faculty to learn about curriculum and pedagogy.

Hangzhou Foreign Languages School will return the hospitality when nine NCSSM students and two faculty members travel to China for Mini-Term, an 8-day period in which students engage in unique educational experiences outside of the regular curriculum. 

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