An extraordinary learning experience in China

This summer, a total of 18 CPS high school students traveled to China to attend a four-week intensive Chinese immersion program at the Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic (WXP), a trade college in Hangzhou, China. The program is part of the President Barack Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative and is funded by the generous support from the Wanxiang American Corp in Chicago and the Wanxiang Group in Hangzhou.

“Going to China has always been a dream of mine since I started taking Chinese class in 2nd grade,” said Jessica Anyaso, one of the participating students.

It was a dream-come-true experience for all the students who are lucky to have the opportunity to participate.

During the four weeks in China, the students not only had the opportunity of studying Chinese at WXP, interacting with local students and even spending time at the homes of some Chinese students’ families, they also got exposed to clean energy at Wanxiang, the company’s core business and did some sightseeing in Hangzhou, one of the most beautiful cities in China.

In addition, the students also visited Beijing and Shanghai, making stops at Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven Park, the Great Wall, and the famous Bund. The exciting tour certainly helped them gain a broader first hand experience about the culture and diversity of the country.

“It has been a wonderful experience, a truly stunning opportunity,” said Natalie Dabkowski, another participating student. “It was a time of many firsts for me, of a first plane ride, my first time being alone in a foreign country, my first time eating authentic Chinese food.”

The intensive language immersion program provided the students the opportunity to apply their Chinese language skills in real life situations everyday, and the students demonstrated an impressive increase of more than 19% in their Chinese proficiency in their pre- and after language tests. Many expressed that they gained a better understanding of the role of Chinese language in international economy and politics as well.

“I have never before been more motivated to advance my understating of Chinese than I am now,” Kabkowski said.

Her statement and realization certainly represented the sentiment for the rest of the group.  

Three Chinese teachers, including, Jane Lu, director of the Confucius Institute in Chicago, accompanied the students for the China trip. This is the fourth consecutive year of the program.