Chinese Students Come To Tyler To Expand Horizons
By MALENA OGLES
Two cultures were united by song and dance Sunday during a welcome reception for eight Chinese visitors participating in the Tyler Qujing Partnership.
The visitors from Qujing, China delighted their host families and with performances of traditional Chinese songs, Tai Chi and Wudoang Kung Fu.
“It’s very easy,” said Wang Rui, an elementary education student, who went by the American name Connie, while encouraging several children to join her in the dance.
Six students and two professors from Qujing Normal University will spend six weeks in Tyler furthering their English studies and learning about life in Texas.
“From the moment we got on the bus they were singing,”
Buddy Holland, a representative of the Tyler Qujing Partnership said.
Holland said Tyler and Qujing are not all that different. The Yunnan providence in the southern part of China is roughly the size of Texas and is known for its rose industry and has a climate similar to Tyler.
Lu “David” Kuan performs Tai Chi with a single fan for a small audience during the reception.
The partnership was initiated in 2001 by Mayor Kevin Eltife and city officials in Qujing. The partnership is a continuing development of friendships between the two cultures with businesses, government, fine arts, medicine and sports.
“We have taken business people to China to learn about industry and doctors from Qujing study at Trinity Mother Frances to see how we run our hospital. We’ve also taken doctors from here to Qujing to study traditional Chinese medicine,” Holland said.
During the reception, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Love welcomed the guests and presented each visitor with an American Flag.
“I am honored to have come here to visit this beautiful city. On behalf of my group I thank you for your kindness,” Huang Qiongying an English professor going by the American name Carla said.
Events Coordinator Jennifer Paul, whose family has hosted several students since the program began, said the experience of meeting so many young vibrant students from China has been a blessing.
“The cultures are so completely different. What they know is from television and movies and they want to see what it is really like,” Mrs. Paul said. “They want to experience the American way of life…Their excitement is uplifting.”
Since 2002 more than 30 Chinese students have been selected for the program based on academics, character and leadership in their school and have visited Tyler.
First-time host family Walter and Kim Bryant said they heard about the program at church and knew they wanted to participate.
“Our children are grown, we had some extra space,” Mrs. Bryant said. “And Walter loves the Chinese culture.”
Each Chinese visitor will live with host families during their six-week stay, changing families every week.
The Bryant family will host Lu Kuan, a physical education student, who uses the American name David, and Yu Zhenghua (Bruce) an English student. During those 10 days the Bryant’s said the students will become part of their family.
“We’re new to Tyler so we can all get to see some new things,” Mrs. Bryant said.
On Monday through Wednesdays the visitors they meet at 8 a.m. and drive to Letourneau University where they attend classes till 3 p.m. Once home, they have free time with their hosts families.
Cheryl Palmer, English as a second language teacher from Tyler has participated in the program for four years. Palmer goal is to asses each student’s English level and work when them on problem areas.
“Fun is the best way to learn,” Ms. Palmer said.
She plans to teach the visitors some things about Texas as well as Folk song. Students in the program will also have homework to facilitate dialogue between the host families and Chinese visitors.
Ms. Palmer added that her goal is to help explain some of the Idioms and slang used in the English language which makes conversation for non English speaking persons difficult.
“We know what the idioms mean, but for others they make no sense,” she said.
In addition to the student’s studies at LeTourneau University they will take a trip to Austin and San Antonio, Six Flags, attend a Rangers game and the Jacksonville Rodeo.