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Exchange students say farewell to Augusta Prep

Exchange students say farewell to Augusta Prep

Posted: February 15, 2012 - 1:01am  |  Updated: February 15, 2012 - 5:55am
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Augusta Prep's Alexandra Helfgott (right) talks about her experiences with Shea, a Chinese student who has stayed with her family for five weeks, during a farewell assembly at the school. Shea, a name she adopted while in the United States, was part of a group of five sophomores from Beijing. They left Saturday to meet with other Chinese exchange students.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Augusta Prep's Alexandra Helfgott (right) talks about her experiences with Shea, a Chinese student who has stayed with her family for five weeks, during a farewell assembly at the school. Shea, a name she adopted while in the United States, was part of a group of five sophomores from Beijing. They left Saturday to meet with other Chinese exchange students.

Twitter @DonnieFetter

A group of Chinese exchange students said goodbye Friday to their temporary classmates at Augusta Preparatory Day School.

A short farewell reception at the Martinez private school produced laughter and tears from the five Chinese students and their American counterparts who served as their hosts.

Augusta Prep students recalled how their Chinese guests learned to love peanut butter, sweet tea, mall shopping and Hooters.

“We had a great time with them,” Augusta Prep Head of Schools Becky Gilmore said. “I certainly have been pleased with the open arms the Augusta Prep community embraced them.”

The sophomores from Bei­jing No. 4 High School and an instructor were part of a five-week exchange program that sent groups to schools throughout the Southeast.

On Saturday, the Augusta Prep exchange students rejoined the larger group to spend a week touring Washington, D.C.; New York; and Philadelphia before returning to China.

Believing their Chinese names might be too difficult for Ameri­cans to pronounce, the exchange students took on such names as Alice, Angela, Michael Swift, Frank and Alien.

Along with teacher Shea Xia, the students learned about American culture in the classroom, on historical tours and by interacting with their hosts.

Many of the students took part in the program in the hope of returning one day to attend an American university.

Xia also hoped to spend some time in the kitchen learning to make American dishes.

“I learned how to make muffins,” she said Friday. “They’re really good. I’m going to keep making them.”

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