By: Jillian Wilson
It's a life changing opportunity Muscatine students will soon experience.
The ‘One Hundred Thousand Strong Initiative' is geared towards getting 100,000 American students to study in China.
Today, Muscatine city leaders and Chinese officials signed an agreement to send 16 students off this summer.
"Kids learn through experiences at a much deeper level than they learn in a traditional sense of education," says Bill Decker, Superintendent, Muscatine School District.
Instead of reading a book about China, students will fully immerse themselves in the Chinese culture.
Program leaders say this is important in our globally competitive world.
"Especially for the young people, when they grow up they need to understand what the other side looks like," says Pin Ni, President, Wanxiang American Corporation.
That's why Wanxiang American Corporation is giving the city of Muscatine $100,000 dollars to send students to China for the next two years.
Students will learn the language, study the culture, and hopefully make some new friends along the way.
"When you make the friendship you usually find out students are more like us than different," says Sarah Lande, an ‘old friend' of Xi Jinping.
The soon to be president of the Chinese Republic came to Muscatine back in the seventies and has maintained a relationship ever since.
Now Chinese is a staple in the Muscatine community.
High school students learning Chinese say they want to break negative stereotypes about china.
"I think as we learn more and we get closer to them, we'll see that they are not bad people. They are really good people and we can learn a lot from them and hopefully strengthen our ties. Make them friends, not enemies," says Michael Cox, Senior, Muscatine High School.
Program leaders say they hope the experience will create a legendary friendship between Muscatine and China.
"That all adds up to just an incredible opportunity that will result in true learning," says Decker.
If you're a Muscatine student and interested in the study abroad program, just call the district office for more information.