Sixteen students from Garinger, North Mecklenburg and Providence high schools will head for China later this month to test their language skills, explore stereotypes and bring back photos and videos to share with the city.
The Light Factory, a photography museum in uptown Charlotte, is hosting the exchange, which sends the students from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to China for two weeks and will bring Chinese students to Charlotte in January. It's part of the district's push to get more students involved in international exchange programs, which Superintendent Peter Gorman said is valuable in a global economy.
“Cultural awareness, we feel, is a very, very important part of that,” he said Wednesday.
Students making the trip include Nkiruka Obi, a junior in Garinger's international studies school who is learning to speak Chinese. A native of Nigeria, she said this will be the first time she's been on a plane since 1996, when she came to the United States. She hopes to become a doctor, and said “It's good to know different ways that medicine is used throughout the world.”
Malorie Earles of Providence and Andrea LeBlanc of North Meck got involved through their schools' film and photography programs. All students will keep visual records of their trip, which will then be part of a video/photo exhibit at The Light Factory.
“I honestly do not know anything about China except what you see on TV,” said LeBlanc, who plans to enlist in the Air Force and eventually become a professional photographer.
The exchange is not costing taxpayers anything, said Gorman and Light Factory officials. Some students are paying the $3,200 fee for the two-week trip, while The Light Factory lined up grants and donations to provide scholarships to others.
CMS is currently urging students to explore study-abroad options for 2009-10.
“Finance doesn't have to be a barrier,” Gorman said.
Interested students should contact Tara Brown, 980-343-2672.