LIVINGSTON, NJ — As part of the American Education Exploration Program, Heritage Middle School (HMS) students recently had the opportunity to share their language, culture and school with nine exchange students from China.

The students visited from Zhuhai, which is located in China's Guangdong Province, and attended classes with HMS students and stayed with host families during their two-week trip. While the students were in Livingston, their teacher and chaperone Hong Lei shared a bit of Chinese culture with HMS students by presenting a dance performance at the school.

The goal of the program is to “enhance friendship between the US and China, and deepen mutual understanding of each other.”

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The exchange students noted several differences between school in America and their school back home. For one, eighth grader Li Jingze said that his school in China does not provide a computer for each student, which HMS does as part of the district’s 1:1 technology initiative. In addition, the Chinese students remain in one classroom all day, so class bells and travelling in crowded hallways from room to room was a new experience for them.

The exchange students also saw a big difference in the amount of homework students receive and the load of textbooks they have to carry. Lu Jianyi (also known by her American name, “Cici”) said that in China, she carries heavy textbooks and, on a busy night, can do up to three hours of homework.

Although there may be several differences between middle schools in the US and in China, the importance of great teachers and good friends is the same across the globe. Cici commented that her HMS computer teacher has been the best part of her visit.

“She’s kind to me,” said Cici.

Li Jingze, who is known as “Leo,” chimed in, saying that the best thing about his visit has been meeting HMS students.