The 24 students and two
educators from Nankai High School felt the warmth of a La Porte welcome as
their bus pulled into the La Porte High School parking lot late Thursday
night. LPHS students and their families
who will be hosting the Chinese travelers greeted them with balloons, signs,
and cheers of welcome as they began their week-long visit..
The students from
Tianjin, China, will be in La Porte through Feb. 12 as part of the La Porte
Education Foundation's global studies exchange program. As a result of the Foundation's support, students
from La Porte visited China in the spring of 2008, and another 20 have been
selected for a trip scheduled for June 2009.
The gathering was a
reunion for some, as several participants will be hosting the same student with
whom they stayed during their visit to China. Some of the students from China are new to the
program, and families hosting the visitors include those of students who went
on the 2008 trip as well as a few who are preparing for the June trip.
After boarding their
flight in Beijing, the Chinese group, which also includes a Nankai High School
vice principal and English teacher, made a brief stop in New York before
traveling on to Houston. During the bus
ride from the airport, the visitors took in the sights of the Houston area at
night, listening carefully as trip leader Nancy Li of Easton Resource
Development explained their itinerary for the week.
"With a few months of work with the
China side, as well as the endless efforts and support from the La
Porte Education Foundation, LPISD and the whole community, I am so glad
that La Porte's Global Exchange Project continues and starts this year
by having 24 Nankai students and two educators arrive in La Porte," Li
I have been very fortunate and grateful
to serve as a bridge working with both sides of the world, helping to
provide a global classroom so as to open the eyes and minds of young people in
dealing with future challenges. I am so happy and proud to see
this between La Porte and China Tianjin Nankai."
Li explained that this
is the first trip to the United States for all of the Chinese guests. They began their initial day in La Porte by
attending classes with their LPHS buddies, while the Chinese educators had the
chance to observe classes and discuss education issues with LPHS principal
Joanne Kolius and her staff.
During their stay, the
participants will attend the LPHS musical, "Anything Goes," and the La Porte
vs. Dobie basketball game. They will
also have the opportunity to tour NASA, where they will hear a presentation by Chinese-American
astronaut Leroy Chiao; see a Houston Rockets game; and participate in Career
Day with La Porte area professionals who work in their field of interest.
In addition, the group and
their La Porte buddies will travel to Round Top, where they will tour Festival
Hill and Henkel Square and enjoy a hayride and trip to a farm. The following day, they will go to Austin for
a tour of the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum; that afternoon, they will be
recognized by the Senate and have a tour of the Capitol led by Senator Mike
Throughout the week,
the students will continue to go to classes alongside their La Porte
hosts. The night before their departure,
the guests will be honored at a farewell dinner to be held at the San Jacinto
"La Porte has opened its
school, its homes and its heart, as was seen last night with the welcome of the
Nankai High School from Tianjin, China," said Don Empfield, past president of
the La Porte Education Foundation and chair of the Global Studies Exchange
Program project. "These young people
from both sides of the world represent our future, and our future begins today
with an even better tomorrow through this program. Our problems are global
today, but so are our solutions."