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A once in a lifetime experience!

PERU Three weeks ago this newspaper published a story about Peru Senior High School teacher Lin Chin leading sixteen of his math students, his wife Ake, and thirteen other adults on a 10-day visit to his native China. On April 25th we interviewed five student participants: Perry Morocco, Hannah Robinson, Nina McDowell, Natalie Barnett and Frida Qassim. Frida is a foreign exchange student from Israel. The group departed on April 4 traveling from twenty-seven hours from Burlington to JFK Airport and to Beijing via Shanghai. The trip took about 27 hours. They spent four nights in Peking, one night in Wuxi, one night in Hangzhou and three nights in Shanghai. Most days were filled with guided tours that usually lasted from about 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. One memory all the students mentioned was the food. Asked if food in China is similar to the food served in our local Chinese restaurants they responded with a loud No! The food in China seemed a little more exotic including such delicacies as eel and duck webbing (the tissue between a ducks toes). Natalie Barnett remarked, We ate pretty much every part of the duck. The young people said they preferred the food sold by street vendors compared to food they ate in restaurants. Hannah Robinson said if you bought from the vendors, There was food for 20 for less than $10. A visit to a middle school classroom in Hangzhou was a definite highlight. One morning some of the young people got up early and took a walk with Mr. Chin. They stopped at a school the school administrator was kind enough to arrange a tour. Frida Qassim said the classroom structure and the way they teach reminded her of schools back in her native Nazareth. Hannah Robinson added, There were similarities to our schools, especially the things the kids were saying about their homework and their teachers. Most of the students spoke English. English is beginning to be a requirement in many of Chinas schools. Perry Morocco remarked about the modes of transportation. China was different in that bikes, mopeds and electric scooters were everywhere. Ive never seen so many bikes together at one time. It was almost as unusual as their driving methods which involved no lights and paying no attention to laws. One evening in Shanghai the group was out late, the busses werent running, and they had to take rickshaws back to the hotel. Swerving in and out of traffic and going against traffic with no lights is something they wont forget. Nina McDowell talked about one of Chinas best-known attractions. I really liked climbing the Great Wall. It was really amazing to be up there and look down on it. I had never thought that Id be able to say that Ive been on the Great Wall. Natalie Barnett mentioned shopping as one of her favorite memories. I really liked the shopping. We went to a couple of markets. Theyre kind of like our malls but it was vendors set up in booths along the halls. The shopping and haggling about price was something everyone remarked about. Hannah Robinson added, Sometimes the aggression of the salespeople was a little scary, but it was a blast bargaining and a rush trying to escape from the persistent sellers. Surprisingly Americans were something of a curiosity, especially in Beijing. People were often taking pictures of them. Mr. Chin explained that Chinese people from rural areas are often tourists and many have never seen Americans before. Hannah Robinson added, Overall, the Chinese people were incredibly welcoming and friendly. The return trip to Peru was probably the most trying part of the trip. The flight from Shanghai was late in departing. When they landed at JFK they found themselves in the midst of our April 15th noreaster. They took a train to Albany and bus to Plattsburgh arriving home forty-one hours after leaving Shanghai. In spite of that, all the young people agreed that their trip had been a wonderful experience and was something that theyd never forget.

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