Exchange experience enriched Kent student’s life

Life experiences have a way of twisting our perspectives, forcing us to see what we purposely overlooked before. This summer I was given an opportunity to spend 3 weeks in China, and my way of seeing the world is irreversibly altered because of it.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, October 2, 2009 1:02pm
  • News
(From left to right) Zhang Chi

(From left to right) Zhang Chi

Life experiences have a way of twisting our perspectives, forcing us to see what we purposely overlooked before. This summer I was given an opportunity to spend 3 weeks in China, and my way of seeing the world is irreversibly altered because of it.

My journey began here, in Kent, through the Kent-Yangzhou Sister City Program. After an application process, I was chosen as a Youth Ambassador for the city.

The months before the trip were a blur of color. I don’t remember much of the visa application, numerous doctors’ visits, and the fiasco that constituted my packing. What I do remember was stepping off the plane, breathing in the humidity, wishing I had shorts on instead of jeans, and meeting the people who would soon become my second family.

I had the privilege of living with them, in their home, throughout the duration of my stay in China, and in return, their daughter, and one of my now close friends, will come to America to stay for the same amount of time, while my family reciprocates the kindness, generosity, and love the family exhibited to me.

The Sister City Exchange Program has provided the backdrop for my cultural immersion. I was thrust into a foreign country with the basic knowledge of the dos and do nots, and then given a chance to learn and grow on my own accord with the help of my host family. Under their guidance, I saw the famous Yangzhou gardens, witnessed the lights of Shanghai, tried a variety of food I would never have been brave enough to try at home, and met an entire community that has changed my life.

I discovered that the beauty of China is in the people, their relaxed lifestyle, their belief that not everything needs to be modernized. China is so beautiful in its simplicity, in its ability to make you feel at home even when you miss your own bed, and in its welcoming and open nature. This experience has had such a positive impact on my life, and even though I come home to face a pile of college applications on my desk, I fill them out wholeheartedly, because of the transformation that happened over the three weeks. Life’s problems seem less daunting, knowing that I have found a new support system in the Sister City Committee here in Kent, and in an entire city 6,000 miles away, known as Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China.


The Kent-Yangzhou Sister City Program is open to all students ages 14-17 who are U.S. citizens. If you are interested in this program please contact the Sister City Committee at or

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