OSKALOOSA — A group of Chinese junior high students will visit Oskaloosa this next week to learn more about American education and government.
Nineteen students, a teacher and a principal will arrive in Oskaloosa late Monday night and stay through Friday. The group is from the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School in Hebei Province, near Beijing.
During their stay, the students will stay with host families while the teacher and principal will stay with Oskaloosa Middle School Prinicipal Andy Hotek, Oskaloosa Middle School guidance counselor Amanda Hoffman said.
“They’re divided into pairs and will stay with nine host families,” Hoffman said of the Chinese students.
The visit is the result of a relationship that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad forged with current Chinese President Xi Jinping in 1985 when the Chinese president was a lower-level government official. Now that Xi Jinping is president of China, he and Branstad renewed their relationship. That includes cultural exchanges. During a recent meeting between the two with invited guests, Musco President Joe Crookham recommended Oskaloosa as a site for a cultural exchange, since Musco has a factory in China, Hoffman said. Musco Director of Asian Sales Albert Liu is acting as a liaison between Chinese officials and Oskaloosa Superintendent Russ Reiter, she added.
Hoffman said the Chinese principal and an assistant came to Oskaloosa in August 2013 to meet with Reiter to plan the visit.
“They’re interested in our government and our culture, and how our kids go to school,” Hoffman said. They will visit Oskaloosa to learn about us at the local level. They will visit Des Moines on Friday, Jan. 31, to learn about state government, and they will then travel to Washington, D.C., to learn about our national government, Hoffman said.
During their stay in Oskaloosa, the Chinese students will shadow Oskaloosa students as they attend class. They also will visit various parts of Oskaloosa during the week. They will perform a talent show for Oskaloosa students Thursday. There will be a community meet and greet event planned for Wednesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Smokey Row.