Roslyn students recall China exchange trip

Amanda Bernocco And Bill San Antonio

Though Roslyn High School seniors Alexandra Tsolis and Victoria Tu had visited China before, they admitted Thursday their language skills were not all that refined before leaving Long Island for a two-month, foreign-exchange trip to a school in Beijing this spring.

But after immersing themselves in Chinese culture and attending classes at the Beijing No. 35 school, Roslyn’s liaison school in its three-year-old Chinese study abroad program, Tsolis and Tu said they felt right at home even though they were on the other side of the world.  

“You really realize that two cultures are really not that different,” said Tsolis, recalling the trip during Thursday’s Board of Education meeting. “It’s just little nuances that make it different that you have to get accustomed to.”

The girls, who returned April 30, prepared for the trip by taking a remedial Chinese language and culture course at Roslyn High School during their junior year. 

Their trip was financed through the Roslyn School District, though the students were responsible for the cost of their plane tickets.

“I can’t think of two students I would be more proud of to send to from Roslyn to China and I thank you for that,” said Superintendent of Schools Dan Brenner. 

The trip was the first to take place during a Roslyn High School semester. Groups of students, teachers and administrators had gone to China during the last two summer vacations.

While at Beijing No. 35 school, Tsolis and Tu attended classes in both Chinese and English. 

Tu said certain classes are first taught in Chinese and then in English in an attempt to prepare native Chinese speakers for study abroad programs to the United States.

“So it’s like learning it twice,” she said.

Eight Roslyn High School students are scheduled to go to China for two weeks this summer, Brenner said, while a group of Chinese students will come to Roslyn in the fall.

Among the biggest culture shocks of Tsolis’ experience was learning that the Chinese do not drink water during meals, opting instead for soup or tea.

Tu said one of the most memorable parts of the trip was being able to apply what she learned about China in Roslyn to what she’d later experience in Beijing.

“To me that was so different because I learned about it in school. And to actually see it first hand and to put all my knowledge — like to apply it — it was really special,” she said. 

This story was reported by Amanda Bernocco. It was written by Bill San Antonio.

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Amanda Bernocco And Bill San Antonio

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