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Indiana Kids Get a Learning Experience Across the Globe

Indiana high school student Haley Johnson gets a lesson in Chinese calligraphy. (V. Carter)
Indiana high school student Haley Johnson gets a lesson in Chinese calligraphy. (V. Carter)
April 6, 2017

VALPARAISO, Ind. -- The president of China arrives in the U.S. today for meetings with President Donald Trump, and some Indiana high school students have a particular interest in the meeting. They just returned from China.

The eight-day visit took the students to see the Great Wall and Tiananamen Square in Beijing, the Yellow Mountains in Huangshan, a high school in Hangzhou, and a temple in Shanghai. Chaz Steeves, a student at Washington Township High in Valparaiso, said he and others might have had preconceived ideas of what a Communist country would be like, but they were surprised by how welcoming people were.

"You see people walking down the streets, and they seem to act much more friendly and welcoming to everyone,” Steeves said. "Even street merchants aren't just selling you the item - they're welcoming you in, talking about some of the stuff, and then showing the stuff that they have to sell, whether it's in a museum or just a street stand itself. "

Steeves and the other students said they were surprised to find that, despite the negative viewpoints about China that they had heard from politicians, high school students on the other side of the world had many of the same hopes and dreams as students do back home in Indiana. The trip was sponsored by Valparaiso University's Confucius Institute for students who study foreign languages in high school.

John Glenn High School student Anna Dennie said it's evident that people in China take pride in their country.

"Just the cleanliness standard in the cities. Honestly, most of the places we went, especially in Beijing, were a lot cleaner than American cities,” Dennie said. "And it was just nice to see that. "

The students said some of the negatives of life in China were the smog, the traffic and the crowded conditions.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN