The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 14, 2013

Greater Johnstown hopes to go global

Developing exchange program with China

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District last week played host to 10 Chinese students who hope to spend their senior year studying in the district.

The only remaining matter to pave the way for the visit is for the visitors to obtain student visas.

The school district has established an international educational program and has plans to lease a structure in the 8th Ward to house the Chinese students. The Chinese families would bear all costs associated with the building and the tuition.

The goal is to invite a total of 60 Chinese students over the next few years to study here with Johnstown students traveling to China to do the same.

The Chinese students are applying for long-term visas – passports that would enable them to remain in America long enough to go on to college, said Greater Johnstown High School Principal Michael Vuckovich.

“It’s a one-of-a kind program, and we’re very excited about the potential this program has to introduce our students to a global environment.

“Future plans include organizing an international exchange program whereby Johnstown High School teachers and students will teach and study in China.”

“Additionally, we believe Johnstown High School will be one of the first public schools in the nation to have such a program,” he said.

“Our teachers also will share their best teaching practices with the best that the Chinese have to offer for the betterment of all students,” he said.

Along with the 10 Chinese students, five principals and teachers from China also visited Johnstown last week.

Greater Johnstown Schools Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak said the international educational program is an opportunity to experience great, real-world cultural exchange.

“We get to exchange language and understand each other,” he said. “We get to challenge ourselves as we challenge our new students from China to reach beyond academically and achievement-wise.”

William Pan, co-chairman of the New York City-based Ivy International Education Group, which is working to promote the educational relationship between the U.S. and China, said during the visit that the program with Johnstown is going well.

Don D, of the International Foundation Alliance for China, which also is helping to promote the relationship, said the program is great and has enabled Chinese and Johnstown students to communicate via email.

Wong Wei, a Chinese student, is one of the students taking advantage of that medium.

“Many of my best friends are here,” he said, adding that he keeps in touch with them via email.

Lisa Weng, another Chinese student, said studying in Johns-town will make them more independent because of being away from home.

Jane Xu, another Chinese student, said she has noticed during her visits to America that American high schools are more technology-oriented than Chinese schools.

Students here also have more freedom to choose subjects in which they are interested, she said.

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