A group of Chinese elementary students got a first-hand look at Turlock and surrounding areas this week and Turlock Christian International Program Coordinator Vicki Harmon hopes it will not be the last.
With the assistance of a translator, Harmon gave 13 bubbly Chinese students from Jin-Shan Primary School a whirlwind tour of the local area to show what life is like outside of China. Harmon hopes that in as little as one year, some of these students will return to be a part of the Turlock Christian International Program.
“A few of the students are in sixth grade and the earliest we admit is junior high school,” said Harmon. “So conceivably some of these students might be back next year or in eighth grade and they would stay throughout high school.”
This was not only the first visit to the Central Valley for Jerry Yu (Yu Hong Ru) and Will Li (Li Wen Hao), but it was also their first visit to the United States. Li said that he thought Turlock was “very cool” and Yu said that he is looking forward to the field trips to Sacramento and Yosemite at the end of the tour.
“The people are lovely and kind and the city is cool,” said Yu through a translator. “The education in the schools is also very good.”
Over the span of three days, students were welcomed by American students at Keyes to Learning Charter School and Turlock Christian’s Elementary School, as well as Mayor Gary Soiseth. The students toured Hilmar Cheese Company and a local dairy, and have plans to take a field trip to Sacramento and visit Yosemite on their way back to Los Angeles.
“The goal is just to give the students an idea of what Turlock is like and what it has to offer, because if they do come, they’ll probably spend four to five years living here,” said Harmon.
The Turlock Christian International Program currently has 43 students in eighth through 12th grade, making up approximately 25 percent of the entire student population. While most of the international students are from Asia, Harmon said that she hopes to expand the program in order to welcome students from other continents.
“I just think international travel totally changes the way a student understands the world. It affects the way they look at life,” said Harmon. “These students have a better understanding of geography and they know that there is a place beyond where they spend their entire life.”
The tour for Jin-Shan Primary School students was sponsored by UC Educations, which is the company that places students in homes once they become a part of Turlock Christian’s International Program.