By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer 


Host families greet visitors from Loudi at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

In spite of concerns about the H1N1 flu, 16 students from Loudi No. 1 Middle School, Hunan PRC along with their principal and two other adult chaperones were greeted by their host families at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on the evening of July 16, 2009. Although the 11-day visit started off with a delayed flight from Chicago, this did not deter them from embarking on a trip they have been vying for with hundreds of other students during the past year.

This group of students is the second that has visited Eden Prairie.  The first group came in 2007 as the result of an accord that both schools signed in 2006 establishing a sister school relationship that incorporated an alternating educational/cultural exchange at each other’s school.  Students from Eden Prairie High School visited Loudi in 2008 and are scheduled again in 2010.

There was very little time for the group from Loudi to recoup from jet lag since they were scheduled to meet at Eden Prairie High School early the next morning to commence a varied schedule of activities.  Over the course of their stay, the visitors from Loudi stayed with host families who dropped them off each morning at the high school, picked up each evening during the week and shared with them how it was to live as a typical American family by sharing what a normal family does in the evenings and weekends.

Their planned activities included a tour of Eden Prairie High School, Minnesota History Center, University of Minnesota, China Center, Wells Fargo Bank Museum, Arboretum, Mill City Museum, Lock and Dam Tour, Stone Arch Bridge, Walker Art Sculpture Garden, WCCO Tour, Nicollet Mall, Murphy’s Landing, St. Paul Capitol Tour, Minnesota Museum of Art and Como Zoo.  They were also guests at a luncheon hosted by the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce held at the Eden Prairie City Hall and a breakfast hosted by the Eden Prairie chapter of the Rotary where they participated in an open discussion moderated by Eden Prairie Schools Superintendent Melissa Krull.  They also had the option to attend Hello Dolly which was being performed at the Minnetonka Fine Arts Center.

The 11-day visited concluded with a dinner and presentation of certificates of achievement presented to the visitors from Loudi and certificates of appreciation to the host families at Grand City Buffet which was attended by about 100 people.  Fred and Jennie Hsiao donated the dinners for the Loudi group.  The group concluded their visit to the United States with stops in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. before they returned home.  All travel arrangements were handled by CIAC Travel.

The staff at Eden Prairie Schools did an amazing job of organizing this event for its sister school.  Superintendent Melissa Krull and EPHS Principal Conn McCartan capably implemented the program organized by Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Executive Director of Educational Services along with her assistant Barbara Johnson.  Thanks also to Becky Hudlow, Director of Health Services, for being available for any medical emergencies; fortunately her services were not needed.  Eric Lindberg, the father of two adopted Chinese girls, also deserves recognition for volunteering to be the parent representative during this visit.

China Insight and its China affiliate, Global Learning Alliance was honored to assist Eden Prairie Schools and Loudi No. 1 Middle School in coordinating this visit.  Richard He, President of China Insight and Global Learning Alliance is originally from Loudi City and was determined to make sure that this visit took place and would be an experience that everyone would remember and that the sharing of cross cultural exchanges could be experienced by all.  The generosity of host families is especially important in such an exchange so much thanks to all that opened their homes to our visitors from Loudi, China.

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