Though one group of students spoke mainly English and the other Mandarin, they worked together in Delhi last week during a dissection lab that had them identify the internal organs of piglet fetuses.
Using Chromebooks instead of worksheets and a translation app to better communicate, the students used the interaction to study science while learning about each other’s culture.
The activity at Delhi High School was part of a three-day visit by 42 students from Wenhui Middle School in Beijing.
“From this experience, we hope the students form lasting relationships with American people,” said Ruxia Zheng, a math teacher who chaperoned the Chinese students.
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“We hope through this experience they will also learn more about the American culture,” said Zheng, whose comments were translated by Annie Chen, the students’ English teacher.
The walls of the high school theater were decorated with posters that read “Welcome” in Mandarin and “Our home is your home.”
It helps us meet new people and make connections, like in the real world.
Chetan Singh, Delhi sophomore
The students arrived in Delhi on Tuesday night, making a San Joaquin Valley stop between time spent in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
On Wednesday and Thursday, high school students in the the Delhi Medical Academy of Science guided the younger students through the dissection labs. On Thursday night, the local and exchange students came together for a community performance. Delhi students performed folkloric dances while the Chinese students performed martial arts demonstrations. On Friday, the Chinese students took a field trip to Cardoso Dairy, the Hilmar Cheese Factory and lunch at the Delhi taco trucks.
The exchange program is a first for Delhi. County Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza recommended it for Delhi after seeing how the exchange worked for schools in Livingston, where he previously served as mayor.
On Wednesday, the students were quiet and shy, but by Thursday the middle-schoolers from Beijing chatted excitedly and were enthusiastic about their lab with their high school mentors.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking at first,” said Chetan Singh, a Delhi sophomore. “It helps us meet new people and make connections, like in the real world.”
The Chinese students stayed with Delhi host families during the week. Many of the families were school employees or families with children.
Claudia Navallez, an accounting technician, said she and her family hosted one girl.
“We’re so excited to have her here,” Navallez said. “The language barrier was more difficult than we anticipated, but we figured it out. ... It’s been a wonderful experience for myself and my kids. I’d recommend it to anybody.”
Navallez said her family really bonded with their exchange student while playing the board game “Trouble.” They played the game six times in a row, and everyone was laughing.
Sue Gomes, Delhi Unified’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said she hopes the experience is beneficial for Delhi students’ leadership skills, compassion and academic skills.
“We’ve never had anything like this before in Delhi,” she said.
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477