DRHS welcomes five Chinese students for spring semester

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    DEXTER — In China, 2013 is the “Year of the Tiger. At Dexter Regional High School, it is the “Year of the Chinese student” as five scholars from the Republic of China have enrolled for the second semester. SAD 46, one of several Maine public school districts educating international students, is continuing a recent trend by public school districts to recruit Asian students to increase their dwindling enrollments.


    Dexter enlisted the services of Global Study Connections in Dover-Foxcroft last October to match them with Asian students who desired to attend an American high school in rural Maine. SAD 46 has for years accepted foreign exchange students, but the Chinese students are part of the first group matched by GSC.

    With the new program still in its first few weeks, DRHS Principal Steve Bell believes the school and the Chinese students have adjusted nicely to their new academic environment. The students participated in last week’s Winter Carnival which preceded their weeklong vacation. They have also been attending basketball games and other American high school activities.

    “It’s gone pretty well. The major challenge is the language barrier,” Bell said. “It’s a new experience for our school as well. We’re learning, but so far I’m very happy with how everybody has adjusted.”

    Like most Chinese students who come to America, the five students Abudureheman Ailhemaiti (Abdu), Dilinigeer Bahetiya (DeeLee), Xiernayi Kureban (Sherry), Zhi Li (Bob) and Paheerzhati Paerhati (Stephen) have all adopted Americanized names and want to improve their English speaking skills in order to attend an American college.

    “I want to learn about the American culture and learn English,” said Stephen. “This will prepare me for going to an American college. It will also help me obtain a good job in China after I graduate.”

    All of the students come from large cities populated with millions of people which include several major factories. The rural Maine setting with a sparse population and the absense of skies filled with emissions from the factories has made their stay in central Maine an enjoyable one so far.

    “Dexter is a friendly town,” said Bob. “There is a lot less traffic which is nice. My hometown has 9 million people and there are a lot of factories. So Dexter is a much different place than my home.”

    The students have also experienced a major difference in the two nation’s educational systems. The Chinese students typically take 10 courses a year. They attend school for eight hours and study for another 3-4 hours a night. Chinese students don’t participate in large number in the arts and athletics compared to U.S. students.

    Another cultural difference experienced by the students is how the food is prepared. Chinese dishes are more spicy where American foods are more sweet.

    “I do prefer the spicy food, but I like the American dishes too!” DeeLee said.

    Bob said his favorite food is spare ribs. In China the ribs are cooked for a longer time. The Chinese put soy and hot sauces on their ribs.

    “In America, the ribs aren’t cooked as long and you use barbecue sauce. I like both styles. The ribs are still good here. I like American food. I eat almost everything, except carrots.”

    SAD 46 officials expects to continue with their international program next year, but the current five underclassmen won’t be attending DRHS next year. All international students who attend an American public school have an I-20 VISA which restricts them to a one-year stay at a specific school.  The Chinese students would be able to attend another high school if they wish to continue their American high school education.

    Private institutions like Foxcroft Academy don’t have these restrictions placed on them. Bell expects that next year’s class will be fewer than 10. He also expects that the district may hire a full-time coordinator to assist the school in meeting their International students needs.

    “Right now we have everybody doing a little bit of everything to make the program run smoothly,” Bell said. “Ms. Hartell and Ms. Cronin are coordinating the international students’ activities this year and next year we may have a full-time  international Coordinator.”

    The Chinese students are taking the same college preparatory classes with their DRHS counterparts. The only specialized class they take is English as second language (ESL). The Chinese students are younger than most other International students who are educated in the U.S. This group is comprised of two juniors, two sophomores and one freshman. Most international students are either juniors or seniors who have taken 2-3 years of English.

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