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chinese new year celebrations in linden nj NJROTC cadet Nicole Alvarado watches Linden Board of Education President Jorge Alvarez feed the Chinese Lion. It's believed to bring good fortune when the Lion is fed. (Photo: Christine Hudak/Linden Public Schools)

A New Year to Remember

Chinese exchange students celebrate in New Jersey

By Amiri Tulloch | null null , null

For students of Linden High School in New Jersey and the Xiamen Foreign Language School of China, this Chinese New Year will be one to remember.

In the Linden High School auditorium on Monday, the school hosted its seventh annual Chinese New Year celebration, China Night. The school's big event featured the award-winning Linden High School Dance Company, the Renaissance Chinese Opera Society of New York City, and other cultural and language performances by students.

But it wasn't just American students performing in the festivities.

Thirteen Chinese exchange students from Xiamen were also part of the celebration. During the final performance, the Xiamen students joined Linden students to sing "Beijing Welcomes You" together in Chinese.

China Night was the culmination of eight memorable days at Linden for the Xiamen students. Xiamen students arrived in New Jersey the previous week and stayed with host families in Linden.

Excitement among the Xiamen students was immense leading up to the trip. One of the Chinese teachers explained that the students had taken serious exams the day before the trip. But "I couldn't concentrate on my exam," Yue Xu, one of the students admitted, said with a smile. "I could not prepare."

Celebrating Chinese New Year in another culture was a different experience for the exchange students.

chinese new year performer
The dance "Stealing the Heavenly Herb" performed by the Renaissance Chinese Opera Society from Chatham Square of New York City and sponsored by the Rutgers Confucius Institute. (Photo: Christine Hudak/Linden Public Schools)
"In China, most of the celebrations are with family," Xinyi Tong, a Xiamen student, explained. "But in America we celebrate with classmates, friends, and so many people."

Even though the Xiamen students have only been in Linden for eight days, the students have become family to their American hosts. This is especially true for the parents.

Some of the most important people making the exchange program work are the host parents that have the responsibility of taking care of the students from Xiamen.

Cory Durham is a first-time host parent. He said that he took his family and their "exchange daughter" to a Chinese restaurant and let her order a meal for the family.

Linden students will travel to China in April, and the Xiamen students are ready to welcome them into their families and into their country. One Xiamen student said that he was excited to show Linden students the "beautiful and quiet Gulangyu Island."

"The Linden kids love the interaction," Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka said about the exchange program. "And it's nothing but positive for both countries."

The program is also good for the students' education.

Chinese is one of the languages the Linden schools are required to teach. So the Xiamen exchange program compliments Linden High School perfectly.

"I believe that in the next 10 years China will be one of the major hubs of the world," Lisa Ormon, a Board of Education member, said. "And if we don't set our children up now to be successful in relationship with China, we're only hurting them."

The school and city also get a boost from the program.

"It puts Linden on the map," Ormon said.

Kid Reporter Grace Ybarra shares how her school celebrated Chinese New Year on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Blog. Check out her post, and tell us how you celebrate Chinese New Year!


How does the rest of the country celebrate Chinese New Year? Find out in the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps's Chinese New Year Special Report!


Get the latest on national and international events, movies, television, music, sports, and more from the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps.

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