Every summer and winter, high school students from Shanghai, China, visit the United States to learn English and the American culture. Last month, 40 students made California State University, Dominguez Hills their home for six days as part of the College of Extended and International Education’s American Language and Culture Program study tours.
“We call them study tours because the students spend the morning portion of their day in English classes and after lunch they get to do something fun like Disneyland or the beach,” said Dr. Edward Milecki, director of international programs at the university. The students were taken to many famous Los Angeles hangouts such as Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Disneyland, and the Petersen Automotive Museum in the Miracle Mile district.
Many of the visitors are student journalists with the Shanghai Students’ Post, which is published in both English and Chinese. Some just came along with their friends for fun, but all were here to see America and learn about it, most for the first time. All of the students are from various different middle schools and high schools in Shanghai, a city that many would agree is the financial center of mainland China.
“Many of the students live better lives because of their parents who work in finance,” said Walton Zhai, one of the student program coordinators for the Shanghai Students’ Post. “They can take these trips with us and be exposed to more. Exposure is good for them and their learning process.”
According to Zhai, many of the students in the program are talented journalists. In Shanghai, they had the chance to interview world-famous tennis players such as Venus and Serena Williams, James Black, and Andy Roddick. Some would say they are too young to really know what career paths they would like to go down. Fifteen-year-old Betty Wang disagrees. She wants to be a lawyer and wants to come back to America to go to law school.
“I am excited to come to Los Angeles,” Wang said at a barbeque held for the students of the international programs. “My sister was born here.”
Wang isn’t the only driven and talented student in the bunch. Some are comedians. Some play instruments such as the guitar and the piano, while several others are young experts in the art of calligraphy. Logan Lou, 15, is one of those students. He has been practicing calligraphy for 11 years but his real passion, like many teenage boys, is computer games.
“I think I would like to go to M.I.T [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] to study programming,” Lou said. “I am already very good at it. We have to learn basic programming at school and I would like to learn more.”
Wang and Lou, along with the other students, mingled with college-age American Language and Culture Programs students and engaged in conversations with staff members of University Housing including resident advisors. The teens feasted on American dinners of hot dogs and hamburgers along with chips and sodas. Dr. Milecki himself helped run the grill himself with help from staff member Ernest Williams.
“This was one of the better groups that I have taught,” said Skyler Gil, one of the English teachers for the international program. “I’ve been doing this for a while and this was one of the few groups that already had good English skills and they communicate very well. They were a joy to work with.”
For more information on programs for international students at CSU Dominguez Hills, click here.
– Jessica Russell
Jessica Russell is a junior majoring in communications with an emphasis on public relations. She is a marketing assistant in the College of Extended and International Education.