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Bringing Down Cultural Wall

A group of Indiana students got to take an educational trip to China. They say they came back realizing kids in both countries are very much the same. (Veronica Carter)
A group of Indiana students got to take an educational trip to China. They say they came back realizing kids in both countries are very much the same. (Veronica Carter)
April 18, 2016

VALPARAISO, Ind. – A group of middle and high school students recently got to spend a week in China as part of a cultural education program with the Confucius Institute at Valparaiso University.

The students say they came home with the understanding that even though there may be 7,500 miles between them, young people are pretty much the same in both countries.

Washington Township senior Donnae Lipinski says it was an eye opening experience.

"I understand a lot more, like how they treat everything like with respect, and like understanding others, and just it's a lot different feeling, and I feel like I understand a lot more about the world, about how people are so different," she relates.

The Confucius Institute program began in 2004 and is affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China. It works with universities around the world to promote the Chinese language and culture.

After Beijing the students took a bullet train to Hangzhou to visit a local university.

Anna Gomez is a senior at Bishop Noll Institute, a high school in Hammond. She says she didn't know what to expect.

"They were really easy to relate to and just kind of have a conversation with,” she tells. “Even though it's different cultures and different areas we all kind of have like similar experiences so we can kind of like relate to one another."

In Shanghai, the American students visited an elementary school and got to participate in an English class.

Nathaniel Steeves and James McKean are both juniors and say they were surprised at how similar the young people were.

"I thought the kids were going to be a lot more serious, but they like to mess around and have fun while learning just like us,” Steeves says.

“Yes, I figured the classes would be super strict and they wouldn't be able to talk or do anything, but they still mess around and have fun, kind of like what we do," McKean adds.

Sophomore Griffin Carter says many Americans have preconceived notions about what China is like, and he was glad to find out it's different than what you hear.

"I think my impression of China, because of like what we're told and on the Internet, you never see any good pictures of it," he says.

All of the students say they would definitely go back.


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN