A total of 22 students and two educators from China stayed in Durham and Middlefield recently as part of a partnership with Coginchaug High School.
The students and faculty members from Tongji High School in Ningbo lived with host families.
“Part of our mission is really to help prepare our students to be thriving and contributing local citizens,” said Regional School District 13 School Superintendent Kathryn Veronesi at a community potluck dinner welcoming the Tongji students on Oct. 1. “What we realized is, unless our students have some authentic experience with students from around the world then we’re really limited in our ability to achieve that.”
Veronesi, Board of Education Chair Robert Moore, Board of Education Secretary Norm Hicks, Coginchaug Principal Brain Falcone, and World Language Teacher Kate Germond visited Ningbo last December with a consultant from ACES International to facilitate the partnership.
“We were very, very impressed with their school when we were there. They have an amazing astronomy wing and planetarium,” said Veronesi.
While the students from China were in America, they participated in different STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) activities aimed at promoting team building with the Coginchaug students. They also planned to visit Boston, New York, Yale University and the Shoreline Music Festival.
“The arrangement of the school is perfect,” said Zhu Wei, vice principal Tongji High School. “The teachers and also the parents … are really hospitable. They give the students a lot of help and they care about them.”
Next spring, students and faculty from Coginchaug will visit Tongji High School.
“I think we’d like to come here again and experience the real life of American students and the real life of the American family,” said Tongji English teacher Lu Ting Ting.