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For an Authentic American Experience, Chinese Kids Spend Summer in a Small N.H. Town

Students at Busche Academy enjoy recess on their campus in Chester, N.H. Photo by Todd Bookman for NHPR

Students at Busche Academy enjoy recess on their campus in Chester, N.H. Photo by Todd Bookman for NHPR

Around 80 students from China have spent the summer in Chester, New Hampshire, practicing their English and learning more about American culture.

Almost none of these kids had been to New Hampshire before. Most hadn’t even heard of New Hampshire. So, what is their first impression?

“I think New Hampshire is a great state. Very beautiful,” says Leo, age 12.

Leo and his classmates are nearing the end of Busche Academy’s six-week long language immersion program. Busche Academy is owned by a Jia Hui Education Group, a private Chinese company. A few years ago, it bought the former campus of Chester College and launched a summer school for kids ages 9-12 years old.

Most of the day is spent inside newly renovated classrooms, where native English teachers including Mrs. Deb (officially, Deb Freiburger) run through lessons and assign homework. There’s also gym class and music.

All of these students are from Dalian, China, a coastal city in the northeastern part of the country. Their parents spend approximately $8,000 to send them here for the summer language program. It’s a good chunk of money, but think of it as a down payment.

“I will learn some English too because in the future I will study in America,” explains Grace, 12.

Western universities are a huge draw for these families: they believe mastering English and getting a deeper understanding of American culture will help when it’s time to apply for colleges. One of the first field trips these kids take upon arrival is to the campuses of MIT and Harvard.

Visit NHPR for the full story.