Chinese exchange program features new, and returning, activities

Caledonia Abbey, Midway Reporter

After a ten-day visit, the fourteen Chinese exchange students returned to Beijing Feb. 18.

The second year of partnership with Ren Da Fu Zhong High School featured new activities, including a visit to the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, watching a production of “Macbeth,” and a tour of the University of Chicago’s human evolution laboratories.

A returning activity was a talent show in celebration of the Lunar New Year on Feb. 12.

Attendance ranged from Chinese and American high-schoolers to students in Nursery 3. This wide age range sat together and watched performances.

Seniors Abe Zelchenko, Jacob Beiser and Sofia Kouri kicked off the event with a Chinese skit that pulled laughs from the entire audience, and then went on to announce the rest of the acts.

“It was super fun,” Jacob said, “though I was nervous that everyone was going to make fun of my pronunciation.”

U-High students in the Chinese exchange program presented a video parody of Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” complete with noodle swords and Chinese lyrics. Other classes choreographed dances to Chinese pop songs.

“It was fun being there with my Chinese class, because we’ve been learning Chinese together for so long,” Abe said.

Several of the Chinese exchange students also performed during the show. One student sang a traditional Chinese song, another played a violin piece, and one even led a presentation on traditional Chinese cooking techniques.

With friends of performers entering intermittently to watch and phone cameras raised at the most intense of moments, abundant positive energy and support filled in the room.

“I emceed this year,” Abe said, “and I think it was way better than last year. There was just a good energy.”

The fourteen Lab students who hosted will travel to China in March to complete the exchange.

Additional reporting contributed by Amanda Cassel and Emma Trone.