For many fifth- and sixth-grade students, a weekend stay at a friend's house is a big deal.

A group of 22 Park Street Intermediate School students will be spending a good deal more time a lot farther from home.

The students will be visiting Hong Kong for 12 days in June, returning the favor after youngsters from two Hong Kong schools have visited Park Street.

Students and teachers from Taoist Ching Chung Primary School traveled to Grove City in January and a group from Ma On Shan Ling Liang Primary School are visiting this month.

A welcome ceremony for the second group was held May 7 at Park Street.

Park Street has welcomed visitors from Taoist Ching Chung since 2010 through the International Alliance for Invitational Education program, said Ed Nelson, Park Street health and wellness teacher.

Nelson coordinates the yearly visits from the Hong Kong students and the biennial Park Street trips.

"It's always a great experience for our students," he said. "Our students gain so much from their visits to Hong Kong but also from having our visitors come to our school."

The students from Hong Kong stay with Park Street families and Park Street students will stay with the families of the youngsters who stayed with them, Nelson said.

In a short time, valuable friendships can develop, he said.

While in Grove City, the Hong Kong students spend time attending Park Street's classes, Nelson said.

Teachers from Taoist Ching Chung and Ma On Shan Ling Liang offer the Grove City students lessons regarding the culture of their homeland, he said.

"They'll teach them how to eat with chopsticks and lead them through a project making a Chinese paper cutout," Nelson said.

During their trip to Hong Kong, the Park Street students will spend much of their time touring landmarks, such as the Tian Tan Buddha, the Ocean Park amusement park and the Tai O Fishing Village, he said.

"The trip to Hong Kong always inspires our students," Nelson said. "I really think trips like this can do more for world peace than the politicians can. Students are exposed to a culture and find out that even with all our differences, people are basically the same."

Madisyn Robinson said she can't wait to go to Hong Kong.

"I'm just so excited to learn about another culture," she said. "You can study about another place, but I don't think you can really get to know it unless you're there and can visualize it."

Madisyn will be visiting the Taoist Ching Chung school.

"I'm really eager to see their school building because their schools are so different from ours," she said. "Their school is seven stories high. And I'm looking forward to see the beaches. We don't have too many beaches in Ohio, except for something like Lake Erie."

Xander Hageman and his brother, Aidan, will be taking the trip, but the boys will be staying with different families.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing my friend who stayed with us in January," Aidan said. "His name is 'Leon,' which is actually a nickname from his Cantonese name."

Despite their language barriers, Aidan said he and Leon hit it off.

"We both love playing video games," he said. "It seemed like we knew what each other was talking about, even if we didn't understand each other's language. It's going to be great to see him again."

"I'm excited about the whole cultural experience we're going to have," Xander said. "I think it will be interesting to eat their food, see how they live and just get to know the people there."

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