Chinese President Hu Jintao (C) shakes hands during his visit to a classroom at the Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago during the final day of his US visit, January 21, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Chicago – Students and faculty members at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago had a chance to exchange ideas with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The exchanges started on a light note when Hu asked members of the school's choral ensemble, Sound of Sweetness, what their blue and No 34 football suits represented. The suits were of Walter Payton, the students answered.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (C) talks to students at the Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago during the final day of his US visit, January 21, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
Who is Walter Payton?
"We told him Walter Payton is our idol," 11th-grader Will Brennan-Arffmann recalled in an interview with China Daily.
"Then Chinese president told us that we should try to become the next Walter Payton," he said.
But the discussion became a little serious when two students raised questions as to how Chinese president sees the differences and similarities between China and the United States and why he chose to come to Walter Payton school.
Hu's answer to the first question: Despite that China and the United States have different social systems and are at different stages of economic development, the peoples of both countries both love peace and are devoted to development, and the young people of both countries are bright and in love of learning.
The second question: Walter Payton school was attractive because it prides itself as the cradle of "future leaders".
Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) visits The Confucius Institute which is housed at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago, January 21, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
"But he also said jokingly that not everyone can become a leader," Lu Wenya, the school's teacher of Chinese and Japanese languages, recalled.
Both at the Chinese language class and at the school auditorium, Hu told the students to value their precious time, enrich their knowledge and lay full foundation for their future life.
Chinese president's visit left a deep impression on the students and faculty members.
While Brennan-Arffmann said the Chinese president was "very nice", Mike Hermes, the school's assistant principal, said: "I love that he took the amount of the time to listen to the students, their programs."
Terry Mazany, chief executive officer for Chicago Public Schools district, said Hu’s visit sets the future course of Chinese language teaching in its world languages programs, emphasizing the fact that his school district is running the largest program for Chinese teaching as a second language.
"We recognize that all of the Chicago children are part of the global community. They will be interacting with people around the world," Mazany said.