Hereford welcomes Chinese exchange students


Photo by Emily Behan

Clockwise from top: Chinese exchange students Caroline, Rick, and Rachel pose with student hosts Kat Benson (10), Dylan Fox (10), and Christy Ivey (10). The exchange students and their hosts visited Ocean City on Saturday, February 15.

You’ve probably seen Chinese exchange students walking around school within the last few weeks.  These exchange students are from a high school in Xi’an, China called Tie Yi which Baltimore County Public Schools has partnered with for a student exchange program since 2007.

These Chinese students are paired with host students from different schools in Baltimore County, including Hereford High School.  The Chinese students live with their American hosts in the U.S. and Hereford students will live with that same Chinese student when they go to China at the end of May.

Around 40 Chinese exchange students came to Baltimore County Schools and 14 of those students are hosted by Hereford High School students.

The Chinese exchange students have been in the U.S. since February 12 and will stay until March 13.  While here, they will attend classes in school and also visit New York City, Washington D.C., Lancaster, Ocean City, Philadelphia, Goucher College, the Baltimore Inner Harbor, Disneyland, and San Francisco, CA.

“[My exchange student] is pretty awesome.  She loves American Horror Story and Lana Del Ray and I love those things, too,” said host student Kat Benson (10).

The Chinese Exchange Program is intended to let American and Chinese students, who have been studying each other’s cultures in class, experience the culture first hand by traveling to that country.

“It is a bit of a culture shock to go from China to the United States.  They think America is like what they see in the movies,” said co-Coordinator of Hereford’s exchange program and guidance counselor Simon Briggs.  “We meet with them every week and do activities with them to work through the cultural differences.”

The Chinese exchange students were able to pick American names while they stayed in the US: Gigi, Caroline, Huskar, Crystal, Lesley, Chris, Rick, Jake, Rachel, Ivy, Jane, Joe, Oliver, and Monica.

Kat’s Chinese exchange student, Caroline, said that her favorite part about American culture is the clothes.

Rachel, a Chinese exchange student hosted by Christy Ivey (10), said that her favorite part about America, so far, has been the snow.  She also said she looks forward to seeing Christy play basketball.

“I thought it would always be interesting to go to China and for someone to come here,” said host student Dylan Fox (10).  “[The experience] has been good so far.  [My Chinese student] has tried a lot of new things.  We had a lot of fun playing in the snow.”

Most of the Chinese exchange students have been taking English since around age seven.  In Baltimore County all of the host students started taking Chinese around age thirteen.  “She is pretty good at English and I use Google Translate a lot,” said Kat.

This year, Chinese students have the option of shadowing other students. “The shadow program is new this year,” said co-coordinator of the program and World Language teacher Colleen Duggan.  “We are encouraging [the students they shadow] to take the Chinese students to many different clubs and classes.”