Twenty-nine Year 6 students from Yu Ying Public Charter School, in Washington, USA, had the chance to offer first lady Michelle Obama advice based on their own experiences during school visits to China last year.
The President’s wife will be visiting the world’s most densely populated nation very soon, and took this opportunity to speak to students from the Washington institution, the first charter school in the state to offer a Chinese language programme, and one of the top-tier performers in the District of Columbia. Due to these credentials, and the fact that they are taught in both English and Chinese virtually from the off, Michelle Obama considered these students were the perfect base from which to cull knowledge about Chinese culture and customs.
The children were happy to oblige, sharing some of the experiences from their fifth-grade school visits to China with an eager First Lady. Advice included cautions about being touched and stared at, as well as a pre-emptive warning about that country’s somewhat different toilets as compared to the US. Students were also not shy when it came to sharing and admitting to their misconceptions about China – including false assumptions about the size and population of certain towns and areas.
Obama’s visit to the world’s most densely populated country, which cybernauts will be able to keep up with through the White House’s first travel blog, aims to teach future Chinese leaders about the importance of global education in both China and the United States. The First Lady will be travelling with her mother, Marion Robinson, and her two daughters. They will visit Beijing, Xi’an and Chengdu.
The number of Chinese students travelling to the United States to complete their studies continues to increase, with the percentage for 2013 sitting at 23 percent – a number that accounts for roughly 230.000 pupils. Conversely, in 2011, only 15.000 US students studied in China, a number the Government hopes to increase to 100.000 by the end of 2014, through their specially dedicated programme. So far, the initiative has succeeded in raising the number to 68.000.
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