Program aims to get more foreign students to DuPage Co.

ADDISON, Ill. (WLS) -- A group of high school students traveled more than 6,000 miles from Zibo, China, to visit DuPage County, and Friday marks their last day here.

It's part of a new effort to get greater international exposure for the state's second-largest county while providing an invaluable learning experience.

Some Addison Trail students played international hosts.

"Today is one of the greatest school days. I had learned so much about a teenager's life, but in China," said Addison Trail student Mitch Gomez.

Ten high school-aged students from an elite school in China were here as part of DuPage County's Discovery Tour program.

"Chicago is a great destination, and DuPage is a great base camp to have the students land here and experience just a small sampling of things to see and do in DuPage County," said Beth Marchetti, executive director, DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau.

There were stops at local attractions and trying to make their own pizza.

"Everyone can make their own food... that's great," said student Yao Zhang.

It's a cross-cultural experience, promoting learning and understanding.

"They are sponges, understanding, absorbing what life is like both similarities and differences from high school her in America versus high school in China," said Mike Bolden, Addision Trail High School principal.

The Chinese students said the biggest difference was having art and music classes, and the atmosphere.

"Atmosphere here is very free," said student Tianshu Yue.

"I have music every day, something we take for granted in America. They have it once a month, and they do history of music," said Jessica Bach, Addison Trail senior.

There's also the class size difference.

"We usually have 60 students in a classroom. Here, you have 20 or 30," said Yuhong Yao, Huantai School teacher.

The school days are also longer in China, sometimes 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., one student said. And the passing periods are more hectic.

"In China, when the bell rings the teachers move, so imagine seeing 2,000 people rotate every time the bell rings," said Scott Helton, DuPage High School Dist. 88 superintendent.

Friday brings the tour to a close. They leave with new friendships and invaluable lessons.
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