This past month, two Chinese exchange students— Lily Chen from Shanghai and Una Chao from Beijing—stayed in Hampson’s dorm for two weeks.
They both felt very welcome upon arrival and described their experiences as new and refreshing, something that students in China wouldn’t have anticipated from students in America.
During their stay at Groton, they spent their time like any other student—they attended classes, went to a sport, and studied. However, when asked about their day, they described it as anything but average because Chinese schools differ so greatly from American schools. Una noted the many after-school activities and language courses, such as Latin and French, that are not offered in her school.
They encountered many pleasant surprises, such as Groton’s vast diversity within such a small student body, as their school has only a few international students.
At their school, the teachers switch classrooms instead of the students.
Una describes the dorm as relaxed and comfortable: “The girls here, going to each other’s rooms and talking very loudly, this makes it all feel like a family.”
Everyone in the school made an effort to become acquainted with the girls, and felt so fortunate for having been chosen to host them.
Kai, the girl who Una roomed with, told me, “With Una being in my room I was exposed to her culture, such as her father’s Chinese calligraphy and some snacks from China. I am very happy that she roomed with me.” The exchange students both agree that Groton has been a meaningful experience, yet they do not realize how much they impacted others around the Circle.
Lily and Una really appreciated the way everyone treated them, saying: “Everyone is so friendly and I really feel as if I have a really big family here in America.” We hope that future exchange students will enjoy the same fulfilling and rich experience here, and that we will learn from them just as they learn from us.