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US students celebrate ties with China

Young people in Washington state enthused by Xi's New Year card

By LINDA DENG in Tacoma | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-02-17 07:00
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Arts facilitator of Tacoma public schools Lynn Eisenhauer (left), 11th-grade student of Lincoln High School Isaiah Long (center) and 12th grader Montserrat Romero-Rocha pose on Monday to say happy Chinese New Year to Chinese people. LINDA DENG/CHINA DAILY

Teachers and students of a high school in Tacoma, Washington, were thrilled and honored upon receiving a Chinese New Year card from President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan.

"Getting the response from President Xi is such an awesome feeling because it shows that the relationship between the American people and the Chinese people means a lot to him. I think that's really cool and amazing," said Isaiah Long, an 11th grader of Lincoln High School in Tacoma on Monday.

On Sunday, Xi and Peng replied to a Chinese New Year greeting card from teachers and students of Lincoln High School, extending their best wishes for the Year of the Dragon.

In the greeting card sent to the teachers and students, Xi and Peng invited them to visit China more often, including participating in exchange and study programs, so as to contribute to the friendship between the two peoples, especially among the young people.

"I was very surprised and excited to receive the card from President Xi and Madam Peng. It's one thing to talk about having a relationship with somebody who is so important and has such a profound impact on the world, but then to realize that we very truly have a personal relationship with them is incredibly special," said Lynn Eisenhauer, the arts facilitator of Tacoma public schools.

Eisenhauer taught the Lincoln High School choir how to sing the Chinese classic song In the Field of Hope and has accompanied Lincoln High School students on trips to China thrice since 2016.

On Jan 30, teachers and students from the school sent a New Year greeting card to Xi and Peng, and the Chinese people, extending their best wishes for happiness and health in the new year. More than 100 teachers and students signed the card.

"I was shocked. I just didn't think President Xi would go out of his way to respond to a bunch of high schoolers. But it was really nice to know that he did because it shows that he really cares about continuing this relationship with us, and I was just honored," said Montserrat Romero-Rocha, a 12th-grade student at the school.

As one of the 10 Lincoln High School students who will leave for China on a 10-day trip on March 15, Romero-Rocha is excited about her plans in China.

"I'm going to bring my camera and make sure to take lots of pictures because I want to really remember the scenery, the people, and all the experiences. I also want to buy the beautiful traditional Chinese dress, hanfu," Romero-Rocha told China Daily.

Karl Hoseth, the principal of Lincoln High School who will also accompany the students to China in March, said he was thrilled to receive Xi's greetings and wants to continue this friendly relationship between the school and China.

"President Xi's extending an invitation to Lincoln (High School), to be one of the first to participate in the goal of 50,000 United States students visiting China, is exciting. It has been 33 years since my last trip to China, and I am really looking forward to seeing what China looks like in 2024. We want to be great ambassadors for the US and for our school, to learn about a country that has such incredible history and tradition," Hoseth said.

Hoseth visited Beijing in 1991 as a football player taking part in an exhibition game in China, the first of its kind then. In September 2015, Xi visited Lincoln High School during his first state visit to the US as Chinese president and invited young Americans to visit China.

From warm-hearted meetings to ongoing correspondence, the cherished moments of Xi's engagements with students and school staff over the years have created fond memories, cultivating the seeds of friendship.

"During the past five years, whenever teachers and students sent letters or presented gifts symbolizing the friendship between the two countries to President Xi and the Chinese people, they received a reply from the president. This time, the greeting card from Xi once again reflects the continued success of the friendly relationship between Lincoln High School and China, and Xi's trust in youth to promote China-US ties. As an association dedicated to encouraging exchanges between young people and students from both countries, we feel supported and encouraged," said David Chong, president of the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association in Washington state.

During a meeting in November, Xi and US President Joe Biden laid out a future-oriented "San Francisco vision" with a special focus on jointly promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges. In his speech at a welcome dinner by friendly organizations in the US, Xi said that China is ready to invite 50,000 young Americans to China on exchange and study programs over the next five years to increase exchanges between the two peoples, especially between the youths.

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