Park Street; a model for international students

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 Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
 Ten students, two teachers and a principal from Hong Kong visited Park Street Intermediate School for two weeks to learn about American schools and culture. They were also there to improve their English language skills. Park Street Intermediate hosted the visitors as part of the International Alliance for Invitational Education. 

After spending 24 hours on an airplane with two stopovers, one in Tokyo, the other to Detroit, the Hong Kong students finally reached their destination – Grove City.

"It is very cold, but the people are nice, which makes the atmosphere very warm," said Leona Lam, headmistress at the Tai Po Old Market Public School (Plover Cove).

Lam heads up the group of visitors, which is comprised of two teachers and 10 students whose ages range from 10 to 11. The majority of their time will be spent with the staff and students at Park Street Intermediate School, but they will also visit local farms, museums and even try their hand at ice skating.

"The exchange of learning is really what this trip is all about," said Edward Gwazdauskas, principal of Park Street Intermediate.

Both schools recently won an Inviting School Award from the International Alliance for Invitational Education.

The foreign visitors arrived at the school on Jan. 23 and by the time the assembly to officially welcome them that Friday took place, the Hong Kong students already taught some Park Street students the Chinese words for "luck" and "hello", as well as how to write out Chinese characters in paint.

"There is not much difference between Chinese students and American students," said Lam. "They are all very curious and willing to learn from each other."

It seems that the students have rapidly picked up a few things about Americans, namely from their host families and one included a love for animals.

"We don’t have many pets in China because they are very noisy," said 10-year-old Alan Ching. "The people here like their pets very much. They think animals are so cute."

They were also introduced to Ohio winters.

"I think it is too cold here," said Jessica Yie. "It doesn’t get this cold in Hong Kong, but it does get cool."

Despite finding the winter air too brisk for their liking, they all expressed their awe at the snow, most experiencing it for the first time.

"It’s wonderful," said Haley Tak. She and her friends made the most of it by making snowmen and snow angels. "It’s all so white and pretty."

They also expressed their interest in interacting with American students their own age, not only to teach them about their lives in Hong Kong, but to learn from them as well.

"We came to the USA to improve and learn more and improve our English," said Ching. "It’s very nice because the teachers and students always want to talk to us."

This was not the first time, nor will it be the last, for Park Street Intermediate to host foreign visitors seeking education on cultures, American youth, or the state of the educational system in Ohio. They had delegates from South Africa come to visit two years ago, and this past October, they had educators from Thailand come to experience the school firsthand.

"We have to remember we are not just citizens of Ohio, or of Grove City, but we are citizens of the world," said Gwazdauskas. "That is why we do all of these things."

The students will head back to Hong Kong Feb. 5.

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