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White Plains High School Hosts Beijing Students

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - For 15-year-old Andy Xhang, the spread White Plains High School cooked up for him and the other 12 exchange students visiting from Beijing included some of the more unexpected elements of American life.

“The food is one of the most surprising things, and just peoples’ lives,” Xhang said at the barbecue, where Westchester students who visited China met with Beijing students touring the east coast. “We don’t have summer vacation, but American boys do and many work. In general, we just go to class and play [video] games.”

Xhang and the other students from Beijing shared hot dogs, salad, a pasta dish and watermelon with their Westchester peers Friday. White Plains families hosted the Beijing students for a few days while they took American history, art and conversation classes at the high school.

Although Xhang and his classmates only had a week in America, they managed to work many iconic east coast settings into their agenda. After arriving July 1, the students went to Yale, Harvard and a Yankees game. Before leaving Saturday, they’ll add Washington D.C. and Philadelphia to their list.

“I just want to stay here and learn some English and about American culture,” said Xhang. “I hope the White Plains High School students come to China as well.”

About 14 local juniors will head to Suzhou, China during their 2012 spring break, according to Susan Altman, the president of the high school's Foundation for the Advancement of International Studies , which helps organize the exchanges.

“The trip started as a result of my first trip to China in 2005,” Altman said of the district’s third visit to a Suzhou high school. “As a social studies teacher, I realized we were missing a very important part of the curriculum. Becoming global citizens is about interaction. In the 21st century these American and Chinese students will be working together.”

Sheryl and Steve Brady, whose two kids had a "wonderful" time on the Suzhou program, said they enjoyed joking around with the two Beijing students they hosted about “typical teenager stuff” such as why kids never wear the clothes their moms pick out for them.

“The world is getting smaller and I think in the future it’s important for people to understand each other and appreciate their differences as well as their similarities,” said Sheryl Brady, who studied abroad in Finland. “I have no children at home now so I love to host students.”

Have you or your children studied or traveled abroad? Where did you go and what was your experience like? Email responses to strangle@thedailywhiteplains.com .

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