News: As Xi Jinping’s guests, Lincoln High students had a blast of a visit to China
By Wen Liu Oct. 22, 2016
As reported in many news outlets as well as education sites in China, led by their principal Patrick Erwin, a group of students from Lincoln High School of Tacoma just completed their 12-day whirlwind visit to China!
During his visit to Washington state and the school in September 2015, President Xi Jinping invited 100 students from Lincoln High to visit China. After a year of preparation and a process of applications and selections, 97 Abes along with 21 teachers and public school officials embarked on their once-in-a-lifetime trip to China on Oct. 8, with their travel expenses covered by the Chinese government, including airfare, plus donations from businesses.
Their first stop in Hong Kong included a visit to the Ocean Park and the Shun Tak Fraternal Association Yung Yau College (High School). Lincoln students learned about Yung Yau students’ computer animation lab, Chinese musical instruments lab, maths lab, and computer science lab, and their VR and 3D projects. After a show by Yung Yau students, hosts and visitors joined together in singing Sound of Music.
In the mainland, Lincoln High delegation visited three cities: Fuzhou, Chengdu, and Beijing.
Fuzhou is Tacoma’s sister city that Xi Jinping helped to establish back in 1994. There, Lincoln students visited and renewed their friendship school agreement with the Fuzhou Education Institute Middle School that they had first signed in 2005. 97 Abes established one-on-one relationship with their 97 counterparts. Together, Fuzhou and Tacoma students learned Chinese traditional etiquette, Chinese happiness knot tying, paper cutting, Chinese music, etc. They then visited Guling, the town where an American named Milton Gardner had spent his childhood in the 1910s and made famous when Xi Jinping as the party chief of Fuzhou in 1992 helped Gardner’s widow find the former residence. Lincoln students were so moved that they all sent postcards home from Guling.
Next stop was Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, Washington’s sister province, and home of the pandas! Lincoln students split into three groups and visited three schools, Wanda High School, Shishi High School and Shude High School. During these visits, hosts and visitors exchanged information about their respective schools, learned Chinese opera face painting, practiced Taiji, joined in a debate class in English, used traditional Chinese farming tools at a vegetable patch, and tried out Chinese painting and Chinese brush writing. And of course, the highlight in Chengdu was their trip to see the pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
In Beijing, it was visiting Bayi, or August First, school. But Bayi was not just any school, it was the alma mater of President Xi Jinping. To welcome the guests from Tacoma, Bayi students gave a performance of song, dance and martial art. The visitors were also shown the school’s animal exhibition, technology center, and a science lab, including a class on mini-satellite. Abes also had their lunch with the Bayi students. Before leaving Beijing, the delegation met with officials of the Ministry of Education and talked about their visit.
The grand finale, however, was the return trip. Hainan Airlines, which flies between Seattle and Beijing, prepared a Boeing 787-9 just for them: painting the exterior with panda images, decorating the interior also with the panda theme, and placing Chinese writing brushes for the students to write the Chinese character fu 福, fortune, to give each other as good wishes.
Everywhere they went, Lincoln High students were known as President Xi’s guests and treated as VIPs. Not many in Washington, or the United States, can say that. They felt excited and important. They should, as they have added their own page in the chronicle of the Washington state-China relations, and will surely write more into it in the future.
Wonder if we would see 100 high school students from China, preferably from Sichuan, visiting the U.S. at the invitation of an American president.
(For more information on major events in Washington state-China relations, go to WA China Chronicle.)