Park Street Intermediate School hosted a special group of visitors earlier this month.
Twelve sixth-grade students and two teachers from the Taoist Ching Chung Primary School in Hong Kong spent Feb. 2-12 attending the school and staying with host families in Grove City.
Their visit was arranged through the International Alliance for Invitational Education program.
"We take some of our students on a trip like this every year," said Margaret Lau, one of the two teachers who traveled to Grove City.
"We only have 12 spaces open for students, so they have to go through an interview process to explain the reasons why they want to go and what experiences they hope to have," she said.
"This program gives our students the chance to learn about the American culture and to teach American students about our culture," said Sylvia Li, the other teacher from Taoist Ching Chung.
The teachers spent each school day in various classrooms at Park Street.
On Feb. 7, they spent part of the morning teaching Chinese calligraphy and several basic words and phrases to students in Danita Hardesty and Crystal Sander's classes.
The students learned how to write the Chinese words for "sun," "moon," "people," "field," "up" and "down" and how to say "hello," "how are you," "thank you" and "goodbye."
Assisting them were Taoist Ching Chung students Cassidy Lam and Kiki Wong.
"I wanted to come on this trip to learn about America and improve my English," Lam said.
Wong said she was surprised by how many Grove City students come to school by bus.
"In Hong Kong, many students go by train," she said.
Park Street students also have fewer teachers, Wong said.
"We have a different teacher for every subject," she said.
The people at Park Street have been very friendly, Wong said.
"I've been able to make a lot of friends here in just a short time," she said.
The students from Hong Kong were able to visit COSI, which made quite an impression on Lam and Wong.
"It was so much fun," Lam said. "We really don't have anything like that in Hong Kong."
"I loved getting to ride the high wire unicycle," Wong said.
What else might they remember about their trip?
Rock candy, both girls enthused.
"It's really delicious, but it's hard to eat," Lam said.
This year marks the second time that students from Hong Kong have visited Park Street. Another group visited in 2006, and a group of Park Street students visited Hong Kong in 2009.
"Their visit has really energized our students," said Ed Nelson, a wellness teacher at Park Street who helped coordinate the school's participation in the IAIE program.
"It gives the students a chance to immerse themselves in each other's culture so they can appreciate how people in other countries live," he said. "I think a lot of our students think things are the same in other countries."
The students from Hong Kong spent their time in Grove City staying with local families and their days at Park Street shadowing students from their host families, Nelson said.
"It's such a valuable experience all the way around," he said. "I'm really hopeful we will be able to take another group of our students on a trip to Hong Kong someday."