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October 26, 2010 > Students from China visit Milpitas

Students from China visit Milpitas

Submitted By Gwan Alisantosa

Photo courtesy of Gwan Alisantosa

Nine students arrived from Huizhou, China, on Sunday, October 10 to visit their "sister city' of Milpitas and reside with host families for a week. My family hosted one of the students.

I got involved after attending a PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) meeting at Milpitas High School last month. My daughter is a ninth grader there and I am the parent school board representative for the school, and also the board representative for the Sister City Commission. At the meeting I heard that students visiting from Huizhou would need host families. Dennis Grillo, Chair of the Sister City Commission, stated, "The important point of this student exchange program is to develop an understanding of one another's culture, social issues, art and music."

Our house has a guest room downstairs with its own bathroom, so I thought we would be able to host one student. After discussing this with my wife and daughter, we signed up. This would be our first time hosting a visiting student.

We met the 16-year-old girl who was assigned to our family. At first she was nervous. She told us this was her first trip to the U.S. Her English was limited and she was shy. We took her to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, On the Border. She was a good kid, well behaved, with very good manners.

The students from Huizhou shadowed their host students every day at Milpitas High School. My daughter introduced her to her friends, and some of them speak Chinese so it made things a bit easier.

My wife took her to Great Mall twice during the week. They also went to see a movie. During the visit, a group of parents and students went bowling. Our student had never played before, so it was fun for her to learn something new.

The students saw the sights in San Francisco, and our family also went to Disney on Ice in Oakland. Some of the other students and parents toured Stanford University, went to the Apple Store in Cupertino, and visited Santa Cruz among other various activities.

After several days, our student had the courage to speak more words of English. At first, she always spoke Chinese to me, expecting me to translate for her. To help solve the language problem, we used paper and pencil to write words. Also, the Google translation tool was helpful. We introduced her to our neighbors to give her more opportunities to communicate and meet people.

Via e-mail, we exchanged family photos with our student's family members. She also invited us to visit her and her family if we ever travel to China. We treated her like she was one of our own daughters. This was a rewarding experience and I am glad we have this program. It brings people from both countries together, promoting friendship.

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