Rochester Community Schools will be hosting 60 students and six staff members from China this school year through its International Exchange Program, part of its strategic plan in the area of global awareness.
"The exchange program enables students and staff from both countries to make personal connections so they can explore the similarities and differences that exist between educational systems, cultures, political systems, geopgraphy and history," said Michael Behrmann, executive director of elementary education for the district.
The visits are taking place from October 2 to 15. The students and staff are from Zhangjiagang Experimental Primary School and Liagfeng Middle School, in Zhangjiagang, Jiansu Province; and Xishan Senior High Schoo, in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
The students and staff are visiting North Hill Elementary and Van Hoosen Middle School, as well as Adams, Rochester and Stoney Creek High schools. Visits to educational, cultural, historic and civic attractions and institutions include local and regional university campuses; a tour of the state capitol; the Rochester Hills Museum; Dinosaur Hills Nature Preserve; the Detroit Insitute of Arts; Stoney Creek Metro Park; a historical walk through downtown Rochester; the Detroit Zoo; and the Rochester police and fire departments.
"The visiting students are in fifth, eighth grade and 11th grade, and have been paired up with same-age students from Rochester Community Schools,” Behrmann said. "They will be attending classes together so the Chinese students can experience typical American school life. In turn, our students can gain a perspective of the Chinese culture and educational system."
Prior to the trip, the Institute of Higher Education Exchange Collaborative hosted a delegation trip to China where four Rochester Community Schools administrators were able to solidify plans for the student trip.
The district hosted its first visit by Chinese students in 2016, when 24 high school students and three staff members visited Rochester High School for a week. Similar to the 2016 visit, this year's group will be hosted by nearly 50 local families. Middle school and high school students will split their stay between a local hotel and host families.
Students from the Rochester district over the spring breaks in 2016 and 2017 visited China through exchange trips to Liangfeng Middle School and Xishan Senior High School.
"At Rochester Community Schools, we believe that it is critical to provide an enriched learning environment where our students can experience a variety of customs, lifestyles and backgrounds," said Robert Shaner, Rochester superintendent. "By educating our school community through such diverse programs, we can continue to build awareness and understanding that is so important in today's global environment."