Archive for Thursday, November 2, 2006

Chinese delegation, minus students, to visit LHS

November 2, 2006

Lansing High School staff and students are planning a warm welcome this week for two educators from Kaifeng No. 5 Middle School in China.

LHS teacher Linda Leffler said two representatives from the school would arrive this morning, Nov. 2, in Lansing.

ChenLu, an English teacher, and Chen Huantong, vice principal, will tour sites in the Lansing area through Sunday, Nov. 5. They then will fly to New York City to sightsee in the Big Apple, return to Lansing on Wednesday, Nov. 8, and depart on Thursday, Nov. 9.

The tour is part of a three-year partnership that kicked off in March when eight students and three teachers from LHS, including Leffler, visited the school in Kaifeng and toured sights in Shanghai, Beijing and Xian.

Original plans for the tour called for a visit from two students, two administrators and one teacher from Kaifeng No. 5 Middle School. They planned to visit Lansing, Lawrence, St. Louis and Hannibal, Mo.

Leffler said the group's plans changed after the students' applications for visas were denied in late October. She said the denial occurred because the students did not provide academic records with their visa applications.

Applying for visas is a timely and costly process, Leffler said, because it requires a train ride to the U.S. Consulate in Beijing, a $100 application fee and an overnight stay.

For those reasons, Leffler said, officials at Kaifeng's Department of Education decided students would not re-apply for visas this fall.

Instead, those who were approved for visas at Kaifeng Middle School No. 5 will travel to the United States with several representatives from another Kaifeng school that is in partnership with a Johnson County school, Leffler said.

Leffler said she didn't know when students from the school would be able to visit Lansing, but she and school district officials would seek assistance from the University of Kansas Center for East Asian Studies to secure future visas for the students.

"We understand the financial hardship that returning to try to get more visas was placing on the families from Kaifeng. We do see a need to work more on getting that to be a smooth process for them," Leffler said.

She added that LHS students and staff were disappointed that the Lansing group would be smaller and the trip would be shorter, but they would make the most of the situation.

"We have decided that since their time here is short, we are going to focus on Lansing and Kansas City," she said. "We're really excited for them to come. We want them to have a wonderful time here and continue to encourage their students to attempt to come to the United States. We hope that they don't get discouraged by an arduous visa process."

The visitors from Kaifeng No. 5 Middle School will see many new faces, as well as a few familiar ones, when they arrive in Lansing.

"We know both of them because when we went to China last March, Vice Principal Chen was very participatory in our visit, and so was ChenLu," Leffler said.

LHS teachers Randy Brown and Tracy Andrews and their families will serve as hosts during the visitors' time in Lansing.

The guests will be busy.

After their arrival at Kansas City International Airport, they will attend breakfast at Ashlee's with Lansing Educational Foundation Fund and Lansing School Board members. They'll spend the afternoon at LHS, where the guests will attend classes and participate in a calligraphy class activity with LHS teacher Cathy Smith. Later in the day, they will take a tour of the school district and meet with school district faculty.

On Friday, Nov. 3, the guests will learn more about American education and culture by spending the day at LHS. They will attend classes throughout the day and eat lunch in the cafeteria. Leffler said they also would meet with LHS faculty and students to discuss ways to improve communication between the schools.

"We're going to search for ways that our two districts can be in better contact with each other through the Internet. That's probably the target area we want to work on during this short visit : is finding ways for students who can't travel to be in better communication with the other district," Leffler said.

During the evening, the guests will attend the LHS state football playoff game against Kansas City-Turner at Bonner Springs High School.

Weekend activities, Leffler said, would provide the guests with a taste of area culture.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, they will visit the River Market and American Royal in Kansas City, Mo.

When they return to Lansing on Saturday night, they will attend the LEFF's Blue Jean Ball at Cherokee Valley Farms.

The group will travel to Kansas City again on Sunday, Nov. 5, and enjoy a tour of Union Station, Crown Center and the Plaza.

The visitors will leave for New York on Monday, Nov. 6, for a quick sightseeing trip and return to Lansing on Wednesday, Nov. 8, for a potluck dinner at the home of Lansing schools assistant superintendent Donna Hughes.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, the visitors will return home.

Leffler said she realized it was a full schedule, but she and the other organizers wanted to make the most of the time available.

"We're going to welcome Vice Principal Chen and ChenLu, and we're going to provide as much student contact as we possibly can," she said.

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