Twenty-one high school students from China got their first taste
of what it’s like to attend an American high school last week when
they paid a three-day visit to Murrieta Mesa High and hung out with
From Tuesday to Thursday, the Chinese students shadowed Mesa
students who are in the school’s leadership program or who are
taking Chinese at Mesa from teacher Li Yang. Yang has 130 students
in her Mandarin Chinese classes this year.
The Chinese students, who all live and attend high school in
Shanghai, are on a two-week exchange visit to California organized
by the Temecula-based California School of English, a private
school that provides English-language instruction to foreign
students, and a Chinese group called the Shanghai Yuzhen
International Cultural Advanced College.
The Chinese visitors spent their first morning at Murrieta Mesa
participating in games with the local students to break the ice and
viewing a video yearbook from last year. The Chinese students later
visited various classes at the school. After their visit in
Murrieta, they planned to travel to Los Angeles and San
All the Chinese students spoke English to varying degrees and
many said they wanted to visit America to practice their English
skills. The Chinese teens said they began learning English early on
in primary school.
When asked why she wanted to come to America, 16-year-old Grace
Xiang said, “To improve my English and know some American culture.”
She also said she enjoyed Mesa’s video yearbook. “The video was
very good. It was very interesting.”
Xu Jingyi, 17, said she liked the pop music from the video. “I
always listened to Japanese music,” added Xu, who said she began
learning English in school when she was about 6.
Both girls said they have three to four hours of homework each
day after attending classes, leaving little time for other
activities. “We have to study all day. After finishing we have to
sleep. We are so tired,” Xu said.
The Murrieta Mesa students also enjoyed the chance to use some
of their Chinese skills and learn about peers from China. Freshman
Zury Garcia, who is taking Chinese at Murrieta Mesa, observed,
“I’ve seen that they’re really motivated to learn and they’re
really smart. They’re kind of shy, but they’re nice.”
The Chinese students stayed with local families in Murrieta and
also had a chaperone who accompanied them to the campus. The
chaperone, Brian Qun, a high school teacher in Shanghai, said the
local trip was well-organized and the students were excited. Each
Chinese student was given a gift bag with a bottle of water, snacks
and a T-shirt bearing the image of a ram, which is Murrieta Mesa’s
“They can learn a lot. They just looked at the video. The school
life is totally different from our life in China,” Qun said, noting
that students in Shanghai have more homework and less time for
extra-curricular activities than their American peers.
Yang, Murrieta Mesa’s Chinese teacher and a native of China,
said her students also benefited from the exchange, which is the
first of its kind at the local high school involving the two
“It’s a good opportunity to learn the culture and get a picture
of what Chinese students look like, their personality, what
activities they like,” said Yang, whose English instruction in
school in China began when she was in middle school in the 1980s.
“English is the most important foreign language in China,” she