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Bishop Brady hosts Chinese students for two-week camp

  • Lauren Oswsowitz, 17,  reaches across the table for a map of Concord during the morning lessons at the Bishop Brady High School library on Thursday, July 18, 2013. The day's lesson was around public services and getting to know Concord's layout. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Lauren Oswsowitz, 17, reaches across the table for a map of Concord during the morning lessons at the Bishop Brady High School library on Thursday, July 18, 2013. The day's lesson was around public services and getting to know Concord's layout. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Students pile on to a school bus before heading out for the day's trip to the Concord Fire Department Headquarters where they toured the station and learned about the role of the department on Thursday, July 18, 2013. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Students pile on to a school bus before heading out for the day's trip to the Concord Fire Department Headquarters where they toured the station and learned about the role of the department on Thursday, July 18, 2013. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Students play a game of ping pong during one of their breaks in their morning lessons in the library of the Bishop Brady High School on Thursday, July 18, 2013. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Students play a game of ping pong during one of their breaks in their morning lessons in the library of the Bishop Brady High School on Thursday, July 18, 2013. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Students work hangs on walls in the library at Bishop Brady High School on Thursday, July 18, 2013. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Students work hangs on walls in the library at Bishop Brady High School on Thursday, July 18, 2013. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Lauren Oswsowitz, 17,  reaches across the table for a map of Concord during the morning lessons at the Bishop Brady High School library on Thursday, July 18, 2013. The day's lesson was around public services and getting to know Concord's layout. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Students pile on to a school bus before heading out for the day's trip to the Concord Fire Department Headquarters where they toured the station and learned about the role of the department on Thursday, July 18, 2013. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Students play a game of ping pong during one of their breaks in their morning lessons in the library of the Bishop Brady High School on Thursday, July 18, 2013. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Students work hangs on walls in the library at Bishop Brady High School on Thursday, July 18, 2013. Thirty students from Chongqing, one of the national central cities in China, traveled to Concord where they are being hosted by local families and improving their English through activities and lessons at Bishop Brady High School. They are here through a program called Spiral International, an educational organization that focuses on intercultural learning. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

The biggest difference Qin Yupei and Wei Meilingzi can point to between China and Concord is the food. In their home city of Chongqing, they eat three hot and spicy meals a day. Here, everything seems to be sugary and cold.

“People in the U.S., they like their sweets,” Meilingzi said as she ate a lunch complete with a juice box and container of applesauce yesterday in the Bishop Brady High School cafeteria.

The two talked about the difference in food as they neared the end of a two-week exchange camp run by SPIRAL International that brings students from Chongqing to study at American schools. The 30 students, ages 12 to 16, and two teachers arrived July 11 and stayed with host families in Concord until today, when they’ll leave and make a quick stop in California before heading home. This is Bishop Brady’s first time hosting the students, and another group of students with the same program are in Bow.

The purpose of the camp is to build understanding and new relationships across cultures. When Bishop Brady teacher Dee Treybig heard about it, she knew it would be a great experience for the Chinese students as well as a group of Bishop Brady students who participate as student ambassadors. In New Hampshire, the students experienced a greatly different climate and culture than in Chongqing, which is located inland in southwest China and has a population of nearly 30 million.

The first three hours of each day were spent on an academic lesson run by Sarah Miller, another Bishop Brady teacher who teaches English as a second language. The students then spent afternoons doing activities that corresponded with the lesson. For example, after a day of learning about

U.S. history and government, the students went to the State House and met Gov. Maggie Hassan. Another day, the students learned about sports and games in America, then went to a Fisher Cats game.

Although the camp lasts less than two weeks, Treybig and the other teachers say they’ve seen an enormous change in the students. The Americans have learned how to speak in simpler terms, and the Chinese, most of whom had a base knowledge of English before coming, can understand much more.

“They are braver than before,” said Shuai Qiang, an English teacher at the school in Chongqing who accompanied the students on their visit to America.

Aside from the food, the Chinese students said they found many differences between home and New Hampshire. The air is much cleaner and the weather cooler and drier, even during a hot week like last week, several students said. They also rarely get to swim in China. During their time in Concord, they went to a pool party at one student’s house and several went to the beach or other swimming areas with their host families during the weekend.

“I like New Hampshire because the weather is very good; the sky in New Hampshire is clean,” said student John Ye.

Another student, Wei Xin, said the most interesting thing she witnessed was the presence of animals. She spotted three wild turkeys in her host family’s backyard during her stay and saw a small deer crossing the road on the way home from the beach this weekend. That is not something she would see in China.

Along with understanding their differences, Treybig hoped the students would also come to see their similarities. One is a love for shopping. After yesterday’s lesson on America’s economy and commerce, the students took a trip to the Steeplegate Mall, where they were let loose to spend any money they had left.

One group of students made a beeline for a display of cell phone cases, while others went to shop for sneakers. The girls wanted to shop at American Eagle Outfitters, and many of the boys carried bags from Abercrombie & Fitch.

“American clothes and shoes are cheaper than in China,” said Yi “Justin” Shouchun. Each of the students have English names that they use in their English classes back at school. He chose the name Justin because he and many of his friends are followers of pop star Justin Bieber, another similarity between the students and their American peers.

After nearly two weeks of getting to know one another, several American students weren’t ready for their new friends to go home.

“It’s been a great week,” said Lindsey Beahm, an upcoming Brady sophomore who had several students staying at her house. “I wish there was more because I’ve grown so close with all of them.”

Building those relationships is exactly what Treybig said she hoped would happen among the students.

“I tell my kids, how to keep peace in the world is to make friendships across the globe,” she said.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @kronayne.)

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