Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Andrew Aldis and 2012 Lincoln graduate Ray Labrador are taking classes this fall at Gahanna's sister school in China.

Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Andrew Aldis and 2012 Lincoln graduate Ray Labrador are taking classes this fall at Gahanna's sister school in China.

It is the No. 2 Affiliated Middle School of Yunnan Normal University in Kunming, China.

Both young men left late last week and have completed four years of Chinese through the Gahanna-Jefferson schools.

Labrador, who visited China for two weeks last year with a Gahanna group, will be there until June 7, 2013.

"I didn't expect this to be something I would follow up with from high school," he said. "I thought Chinese would be fun to mess around with; then I got serious."

Labrador said his teacher, Mike Kralovic, influenced him.

"I had him as my teacher for all four years, and the relationship built," Labrador said. "I thought I would continue.

"I know I'll do my Chinese major," he said. "I want to get an international business degree. My uncle has a friend who does input and export out of Taiwan. They will probably set me up with a job."

Ultimately, Labrador said, he wants to work in animation with video games.

"My father got in contact with Activision (an American video-game publisher), and the guy said I could do an internship there," he said. "Having language skills is a strong asset."

Gahanna's sister school in China has a campus with a dorm, and Labrador anticipates being in the same dorm as Aldis.

"His Chinese is a thousand times better than mine," Labrador said. "He's going for a half year, and I'm going for the full year. After a while, I won't have him there."

Aldis said he likes the sound of the Chinese language.

"I thought it would be a useful language in the future," he said.

In addition to taking classes at Gahanna Lincoln, he also studied Chinese through immersion programs during the summers.

"I've never been to China," he said. "I've only been out of the country once, so I'm excited. I wanted to study abroad in China, and I think it will help me get into a good Chinese program, wherever I decide to go to college."

Aldis said he would like to double major in Chinese and business.

"I've been planning the trip for a long time," he said. "Having this culture will set me apart from others."

Aldis said he has been dedicated to studying Chinese, but Labrador is selling himself short concerning his own ability.

"Ray is a good Chinese speaker," he said. "He isn't just a friend, but he's like a brother to me. It will ease the tension from living in another country. He will help me through it. It's awesome he'll be there."

Labrador is planning to write a blog about his experiences and has set up a Chinese email account at longlei88@live.com.

"I'll be on Facebook and posting videos," he said.

Aldis said he isn't sure how good Internet access will be, but he'll try to keep in contact with home.

"Ray is pioneering the blog," he said. "I'll help him with it as much as I can."

He said he hopes their visit would open the doors for other Gahanna students to visit China.

"I think it's a big deal having this sister school," he said.

Hank Langhals, G-J coordinator of pupil services/curriculum, said the district has been involved in sending students abroad through foreign-exchange agencies, but this is the first time to send students directly from the district.

"As a school district, we're sponsoring the students and working school to school," Langhals said.

He said Gahanna started its Chinese language program six years ago with Chinese I at the high school.

Currently, he said, 162 high school students are taking Chinese, levels 1-5.

For the first time, the high school is offering Advanced placement Chinese and Chinese 5.

Another 41 students in eighth grade are taking Chinese, with one section being offered at each middle school.

At the elementary level, registration still is open, Langhals said.

Last year, 206 students were in the after-school program at the elementary levels, where the course is being offered for the fifth year.