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Bridging an international, educational gap

South Colonie Central High School students held a sign reading, We warmly welcome all Chinese Students to school, as they greeted students from the Tianjin No. 41 High School from the Tianjin Province in China who visited the school Tuesday, Feb. 15.

The 32 students and four teachers from the Chinese delegation were making several visits to area schools, including Bethlehem Central High School, Tech Valley High School, as well as schools in Schodack and Schoharie.

Some of the Chinese students had high praise for the American system of education, saying there is a lot of more freedom for American students to choose their fields of study.

"The difference with American schools is you can decide what you want to study," said Chinese student Jessica Jia, a 10th-grader at Tianjin No. 41. "In China, they tell you what you have to study."

Another student, 11th-grader John Wang, said Chinese students are usually in class from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., with a two-hour break in between for lunch, leaving them little time to pursue other interests.

"American schools have more time to do some interesting things," he said. "In China, you don't have much time for sports."

This was the first time Jia and Wang have visited the United States, a trip that has included stops in New York City, which Wang called "very modern," and Washington, D.C., which Jia referred to as "powerful."

Both of them said they would like to return America for college, with Jia expressing an interest in the University of California at Berkley and Wang saying her would like to study law at Harvard.

The Chinese delegation was shown around many areas of the high school, and what piqued most of the students' interests were the tech rooms, where Colonie students participate in the Project Lead the Way program.

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