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American students immersed in learning table tennis in North China

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-04-21 19:37
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SHIJIAZHUANG -- A group of American students engaged in a table tennis learning experience in Shijiazhuang, capital of North China's Hebei province on Saturday.

Invited by Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School, 32 students and eight teachers from Muscatine High School, in the US state of Iowa, paid a visit to the school during a week-long study tour to Beijing, Hebei and Shanghai.

During a visit to the United States in November 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a program to invite 50,000 American youths in the next five years to China for exchanges and study.

Sarah Lande, a friend of Xi from Iowa, wrote a letter to Xi, in which she expressed hope that Muscatine High School students could join the program.

With Xi's support, more than 20 Muscatine High School students paid an exchange visit to China from January 24 to 30, becoming the first group of American students to visit China under the program.

Under the instruction of Lu Yuansheng, former head coach of China's national women's table tennis team, the American students played with their Chinese peers at the school's table tennis training base.

"That was fun. I played pingpong a few times before. I'm not really that good at it," said student Joseph Michael Mcneely. "I enjoy just putting it back and forth and not scoring points or anything, just playing the game, that's what I like about sports."

The students were instructed on how to hold the paddle and make some basic movements during the one-hour practice.

Mcneely said he was excited to get the chance to play with Lu. "I wish there was more time to play longer, and maybe I improved my skills, but that's all we've got for the schedule today. So in the future, I will play more pingpong," he said.

Mcneely said he learned that, back in 1971, table tennis helped foster people-to-people exchanges between the US and China. "We are the next generation. We need to continue this friendship together and to grow it," he noted.

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