American inner-city youth participated in China 's 2006 Inner-City Kids in China Program, which started in 2004. During the trip, seven students and two teachers from Snowden High school visited Beijing , Hebei Province, Nanjing and Shanghai from June 20th to July 4th. They were joined by three American suburban high school students and four Guangzhou city middle school students along with one teacher. All participants spent four days in Xinglong Vocational School in Xinglong County, Hebei Province to perform community service and to help raise funds for the Vocational School's needy students.
The students established friendships with local students. They discussed their different lifestyles, individual likes and dislikes, families and different educational systems between China and the U.S. They sang songs, learned dances from each other, and performed on stage in front of thousands of spectators. The students visited local families and enjoyed Chinese homemade food. Because Xinglong County is rarely visited by foreigners, the American students' presence became local hit news. The visit drew so much attention that brought many customers to the Bonsai charity sale on Xinglong County 's main street. It means a lot to American inner-city students to contribute to helping others through their efforts while making a difference in other people's lives. “The most unforgettable memory in my four-day experience in the countryside is the students of the XingLong Vocational School . They have touched me with their actions and with that they have taught me the value of friendship, love, and the life I have that I have taken for granted. Not only have their actions that have touched me but the lifestyle experience that I faced changed my thoughts of life and the value of living a better life.” Vivian Nguyen says in her reflection.
The American students also had a chance to visit the Luhe School in Beijing and the Nanjing Normal University Affiliated Middle School in Nanjing —both high ranking public schools. In Nanjing, the home stay became a new feature for the 2006 China trip, where students could further their understanding of Chinese culture and customs by living with host families.
At the end of the trip, the American students were also friends with Chinese students from Guangzhou . They discovered not only differences but also similarities between each other. Some girls wept when it was time to say “good bye”.
The 14-day China experience seemed so short due to the fun and exciting nature of the trip. It also felt so long because it contained plentiful information that one needed time to reflect upon.
[Thoughts from American participants]
[Thoughts from Chinese participants]