standing Chariho High School

Chariho High School. Sun file photo

WOOD RIVER JCT. — The Chariho School Committee is expected to approve a visit from the district’s first Chinese exchange students during Tuesday's meeting. 

Between 15 and 20 students and their chaperones will be coming from the No. 1 High School in Liuyang, China. The high school is Chariho’s Chinese sister school.

“They will be arriving in late January and staying in Rhode Island for approximately one week,” Chariho Principal Craig MacKenzie said. “Our plan is to have students live in homes with Chariho High School students for one week.”

The Chinese students will live with local families and experience at least two full days of school, as well as athletic, STEM and humanities events. The school will also organize excursions, such as trips to Newport, Providence, the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island School of Design.

“We see the exchange as a first and important action step in the development of our relationship with No. 1 high School,” MacKenzie said. “If the students who visit can imagine themselves learning here, they can promote our school to their peers considering completing their final year of schooling at Chariho in anticipation of transitioning to an American university.” 

Chariho has expanded its world languages program to include two levels of Chinese instruction this year, and it is hoped that Chariho students will be able to visit their Chinese sister school in the spring.

“Host families will be asked to provide food and lodging for the students during the week, as this will be provided when our students visit Liuyang in the future,” MacKenzie said. “We are identifying events and costs so that we can secure funds to support their time at Chariho.”

MacKenzie said planning is in the preliminary stage for a possible visit by Chariho students to China. 

“While would like to visit China this year, possibly during April vacation, we have yet to finalize plans or seek approval,” he said. “We would hope to send the same number of Chariho students to China.  “We see the exchange as a first and important action step in the development of our relationship with No. 1 High School.”

The student exchange, MacKenzie explained, is a component of the district’s initiative to encourage what it calls “learner autonomy,” in which students assume greater responsibility for their learning.

“For our students, establishing relationships that magnify their interest and comfort in immersing themselves in another culture is an essential rung on their climb up the ladder to learner autonomy,” he said. “We believe learner autonomy is developed when students are challenged to confront their readiness to thrive in environments outside of their comfort zone.  Creating those opportunities is our charge.”

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