Trading places

. October 29, 2012.

Chinese students are getting a taste of Western education (and exposing their high school counterparts to Eastern culture) in a new exchange program taking place at three area high schools. The 20 students worked with companies like The Cambridge Institute of International Education to facilitate their attendance at St. Francis De Sales, Central Catholic, and Cardinal Stritch as part of a program that offers them a chance to spend a year or more

experiencing American high school life. Host families agree to provide meals, shelter, transportation and family life experiences for the students for the 10 months of the school year (August to May).

One of those families is the Blochowski family — Mike, a teacher at St. Francis, and wife Kris, a teacher at Whitmer High School. “We are learning a lot about his culture,” Kris says of exchange student Jianhua “Hugh” Huang. “He lives in a high rise building with his mom and dad, his grandma, grandpa, and little sister, who is in the second grade. They are in a more crowded city and [at home] he walks everywhere, so our lifestyle is new to him.”

All three schools have added programs to help their students adjust, from Chinese-speaking teachers to ‘lunch buddy’ programs. “This is a win-win situation for everybody,” said St. Francis Director of Admissions Rick Michalak. “We have something great to offer the students, and they will certainly have plenty to share with us about their country and their culture. This program is what education is all about.” —CH