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January 31st, 2012
Cultural exchange brings Chinese visitors to San Marcos

Students from the Chongqing Nankai School in China join their San Marcos Academy host families and some new SMA friends on the last day of their visit. PHOTO by DON ANDERS


High school students from Chongqing, China, along with two of their teachers, had the opportunity to learn more about the U.S. education system recently during a six-day visit to San Marcos.

The group included 22 students from the Chongqing Nankai School, one of the best secondary schools in the Sichuan province of China. As part of their 16-day tour of the United States, the students, their teachers and three other sponsors were in San Marcos Jan. 21-27, living with host families arranged through San Marcos Academy.

Since the beginning of the school year, SMA has been working to forge a sister-school relationship with Chongqing Nankai that may eventually result in collaborative class projects via the internet between students at the two campuses. SMA is also exploring the opportunity to provide distance-learning classes that the Chongqing students can audit.

“Upon review of the innovative aspects of our curriculum, our guests were excited about joining us to create international learning opportunities using technology, which we have already begun with a school in Kenya,” SMA Principal Bob Bryant said.

During their time in San Marcos, the Chinese students and teachers attended classes at SMA during the week. Each of the visiting students “shadowed” one of SMA’s student ambassadors, who guided them around the campus and served as their individual host during the day. The group also took a tour of the Capitol in Austin, spent time with their host families, and took part in some evening activities and sporting events with SMA students.

“We weren’t sure what to expect or whether the students would enjoy our classes and our culture,” ambassador Dalton Wade said. “But they fit in very well and seemed to enjoy learning about our cultural traditions and the way our classes are run. We were sad to see them leave at the end of the week.”

Another highlight of the trip for the teachers and sponsors was a tour of San Marcos High School with SMCISD Board of Trustees President David Chiu, who is originally from Shanghai, China.

Before arriving in San Marcos, the group visited San Francisco and also took a tour of Stanford University. From San Marcos, they will stop in Houston for tours of NASA and of Rice University, and will then fly to Los Angeles for a few days before heading home.

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