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White Plains Welcomes Chinese Exchange Students

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Chinese exchange students were welcomed to the White Plains High School community during a Monday morning ceremony.

“The Chinese students arrived on Friday, we’ve been together since, and it’s like we’re best friends,” said Susan Altman, a social studies teacher coordinating the trip. “It’s really amazing.”

This is the third trip for Suzhou High School students to White Plains as they also came in 2008 and 2010. During spring break in April, 11 White Plains students stayed at Suzhou High, a public boarding school, for 10 days.

The five boys and five girls have been active with their fellow classmates since their arrival. They watched the White Plains football team fall just short against John Jay High School 27-20 and then attended the third-annual White Plains Columbus Day Festival. Sunday was highlighted by a tour of New York City on a double-decker bus with Altman, Ms. Sun, who is their teacher in China, and some of their classmates.

Each of the 11 White Plains students who went to Suzhou during their spring break are now serving as either a home or school host. They are also involved in the school’s Mandarin language program. Altman said she paired the 10 visiting students with different home and school hosts to get as many of White Plains students involved as possible.

An invitation to White Plains City Hall was extended by Mayor Thomas Roach at the event. He is hopeful they will take him up on his offer.

“It’s wonderful. I’m very proud of our district and it’s an honor to meet these great young people,” he said before remarking at how well they were coming together. “When I walked over to say hello to everyone, it’s tough to tell who are the kids from White Plains and who are the kids from Suzhou.”

Altman said they will be “American teenagers” while they are here and have already seen the Apple and Nike stores in White Plains. She called their connection with the White Plains students “a global friendship” and lauded the school district for its exchange program.

“I think it says that we’re an amazing school district and I think it says that we believe that international education and international awareness, especially in a global 21st century, is essential,” she said of a program that offers travel to Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, and France.

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