Radford High School International Exchange program begins its fourth year this winter.
Following a rigorous application process, the program sends three rising seniors in the Tai Yi neighborhood of historic Xi’an, China in the summer. The program hopes to be able to host students coming from the same school.
Radford students live with host families while attending high school for two weeks.
This June, Radford High School students, Bailee Cox, Abby Dangerfield, and Bailey Fry traveled 28 hours from Radford to the western Chinese city, home of the famous terra cotta warriors to represent Radford and American youth more broadly to their Chinese counterparts.
Staying with different host families, sometimes far away from each other, the three met up at school every morning.
“Chinese students arrive at school around 7:30 a.m. and stay until 6p.m.,” Dangerfield said.
“I got to learn about the stressful times Chinese students have competing to go to school in America,” Fry said.
Dangerfield, a seasoned traveler, said she was scared, but also excited to go to China.
“I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to travel across the world to learn about their culture and how different things can be in a different country,” she said.
Food is culture, and the students had different takes on their food experiences.
“I was able to try new things, such as squid or cold bean soup,” Dangerfield said.
But Cox felt entirely differently. “The food in China was by far my least favorite part of the trip. I was glad that I packed a whole backpack full of American food that I ate off of for the whole two and a half weeks,” she said.
Overall, they each say they’d do it again.
“”Getting the opportunity to go to China was amazing. We went over there to go to school, but we got much more than a school experience, we got a cultural experience,” said Fry.
“After forming a close relationship with my host student, Mia, I would absolutely love to go back to China to be reunited with my host family and the friends I made in those two weeks!” Dangerfield said.
The program hopes to be able to host students here in America that will be coming from the same school we went to in Xi’An.
“I also hope I can give my exchange student an amazing time like I had,” Cox said.