FARMINGTON — Seven or eight high school students and two teachers will spend April vacation in China, meeting students and learning Chinese culture.

The group from Mt. Blue High School will leave April 12 and return April 20.

The Regional School Unit 9 board approved the trip Jan. 10.

Directors approved a student trip to China in September 2016 but there was not enough time to get passports and visas, so the trip was postponed to spring, Ruth Haszko, Spanish and French teacher, told directors.

Students were invited to visit Beijing as the result of a partnership between Chinese representatives and RSU 9.

The partnership with Lisa Dalrymple, a world language teacher and director of the International Student Program, brings tuition-paying Chinese students to Mt. Blue Campus.


The purpose of the district’s program is to bring in revenue to re-establish the elementary school world language program and create a stronger world language program overall.

Gail Carlson, American Sign Language teacher, will accompany students.

The trip was offered to all students taking Spanish, French or American Sign Language.

The group will visit numerous sites such as Tienanmen Square and the Great Wall. While in Beijing they will stay in a hotel and in Huhehaote, the capital of Inner Mongolia, they will stay with host families.

Students will pay for airfare, visas, passports and travel insurance.

Once students arrive in Beijing, the only cost is for personal spending. The host organization will cover other costs.


Students have been doing some fundraising for the trip, she said. Some have found sponsors.

“Students are motivated,” Haszko said.

Parents of the students have committed to paying the difference between what is raised and the amount needed, Carlson said.

The district will pay for three days of substitutes for Haszko and two days for Carlson.

Prior to the field trip presentation, RSU 9 Director Angela LeClair of Wilton gave an overview of her trip to China to participate in the China Bridge Delegation in November 2016 as a representative of the district. The weeklong program is offered to help educators and school leaders start or strengthen their district’s Chinese programs and partnerships. Hanban North America Education Inc. pays for the majority of the cost. Those who attended were guests of Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters.

The goal of the program is to build better relationships between China and the U.S., LeClair said.


She was one of 250 people attending from 10 states, including Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York.

Chinese children are taught English from kindergarten on, she said. There were signs welcoming them in every school they visited.

“They really push their culture in school,” LeClair said.

Dalrymple suggested that a committee be formed to include people from the community, school board, teachers, administrators, among others, to determine where they should start partnering with a school in China and establish other opportunities for students.

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