HANOVERTON- Some United Local students will be traveling to China as part of a cultural exchange initiative this week.
The nine students leave Monday with two teachers in the third phase of the exchange program with sister school Huangshi No. 7 High School in Hubei Province. Principal Bill Young established a relationship with the school in 2011 when he hosted the school's principal in the winter before himself traveling to school later that school year. In the summer of 2012 four United teachers traveled to China to visit the sister school.
The students participating in the program include Maggie Briceland, Mariah Franks, Bridgette Kelly, Andrew Martin, Cody Opsitnik, Ben Sell, Anthony Zarlinga, Elaina Zehentbauer and Vincent Zehentbauer. Teachers Nome Baker and Ryan Burd, who participated in the teacher phase, will accompany the students.
The nine United Local students traveling to China this week as part of a cultural exchange program, from left, Andrew Martin, Mariah Franks, Cody Opsitnik, Maggie Briceland, Ben Sell, Elaina Zehentbauer, Anthony Zarlinga, Bridgette Kelly and Vincent Zehentbauer. (Submitted photo)
In addition to meeting email pen pals and sitting in on classes at Huangshi No. 7, the students will also spend time in the ancient city of Xian, Shanghai, as well as Beijing, where they will see historic locations including the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
At the conclusion of their visit, the students will meet with Ron Menning, a 1978 graduate of United currently living in Shanghai as the vice president of Timken's China and East Asia operations. Adam Grimm, a 2007 graduate of United Local also currently living and working in China, will also be a part of the gathering, as will Xingdi (Cindy) Gu, a 2012-13 foreign exchange student at United who has returned home to Shanghai.
According to Young, the program offers the students an opportunity to see the experiences available outside their communities.
"Beyond the amazing experience that only comes from traveling and seeing a culture first-hand, these types of experiences help students to expand their understanding of the world and know that even from a small rural school in Hanoverton, Ohio, United students can go anywhere in the world with the confidence to succeed," he said.
Young expressed appreciation to the group sponsors- Summitville Tile, AYS/AYA Foreign Exchanges, Specialty Fab. Inc., Mrs. Ann McDaniels and DPS Penn- who helped make China 2013 possible.
Young said the next international trip available to United High School students will be an extension of the Spanish language classes offered, with students traveling to Costa Rica in 2015.