Students from Wuhan, China with KL youth exchange program in Windham NH
March 9, 2018 | International Exchange

KL Exchange Gave Me An Opportunity for Self-Reflection

Students on our SMS Wuhan campus recently returned to China following their one-week youth exchange at Windham High School in Windham, NH. While many took photos and videos to record their exciting experiences, some wrote thought-provoking journal entries. For Vincent Zhu, the act of writing down his thoughts became an opportunity not only to remember his journey but to reflect on his values and viewpoints. Ten more hours of flight. To adjust to the jet leg, some students won’t open their eyes until we have arrived in the US. But I have had a sleepless night. Is it because I miss my home country, or am I so excited to explore another country? I think it is both.

Students from Wuhan, China visit NYC with KL youth exchange program

I still remember our first day in New York City. Our Chinese guide pointed out the window and said to us, “Look at the shiny buildings! I admired these same buildings when I first came here more than ten years ago. You are lucky because you too can explore this city with equal admiration.” It was true. New York City brought us an inexplicable excitement. Times Square, the Manhattan Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and even the homeless people on the streets, made us feel different, interesting, and fresh.

Student from Wuhan China visits NYC with KL youth exchange program

After two days in New York, I arrived in Boston and met my host family. They treated me like I was family, and welcomed me into their home to experience authentic American family life. The most impressive thing for me was their family values. For example, we would always wait for the entire family to gather before starting to eat. They also encouraged the expression of love and gratitude to other family members, to let them know you love them, you need them, and you are someone they can count on. It is worth mentioning also that my new foreign friends were quite interested in the spicy duck neck and sweet rice wine that I brought. We shared the food of our own countries, discussed eating habits, and talked about the cultures behind the food.

Students from Wuhan, China visit NYC with KL youth exchange program

When we ate lunch in school, I noticed that students are given different lunch times to avoid a crowded lunchroom. It demonstrated the advanced management methods common in US schools. And so many foods to choose from…a different main course was offered every day! As a way of welcoming us, Windham High School applied a free lunch policy for us.

I was assigned a study buddy when I arrived, and my first impression of him was that a strong wind could blow him down…until I saw him lift the weight of 50 kilograms with one hand during PE class! On top of that, I was shocked that the girls in my class could lift weights of 25 kilograms and more. My teachers explained that Americans have good exercise habits, but being there I really realized how much American students pay attention to exercise and sports. Compared to them, it seems I not only lack physical fitness, but also the perseverance, endurance, and determination to meet challenges.

Students from Wuhan, China attend Windhan High School gym class with KL youth exchange program

The first few days with my host family, I went to bed around 7:30 pm because of my jet leg. When I passed my buddy’s room, I could see that he was studying. He wasn’t playing video games and he didn’t spend time on any American social media accounts, such as Facebook or Twitter. When classes ended at 2:30 pm, my buddy would study from after school to nighttime. I knew American schools ended in the early afternoon, and I had always thought that American students spent more time in extracurricular activities, but it seems they study harder and longer than we do in China. In fact, I learned that they develop self-directed learning skills from the time they are young. It made me realize that we can become trapped in our own ideas if we don’t get out and experience the world.

After experiencing learning, life, and sports of American students during my KL Exchange program, I began to understand myself more clearly. I cannot narrow my vision of the world to my own city or my own country, and I can’t be proud to simply be better at something than my classmates. We must adopt a learning attitude towards life, and realize that there is always something you can learn from one another.

Vincent’s Wuhan campus classmate Ariel Xiong also documented her visit – with a travelogue entitled Trip to America!

Learn more about our outcomes-driven Exchange Programs that can give your school community a powerful advantage while helping students realize their dream of studying abroad.

Learn more about our KL Schools and how we are transforming international education.


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