Grace Bassett '19 and Susan, her Chinese student guest for the week. Photo by Lindsey Mancini '19.

Part of the challenge of being a Chinese language learner in North Carolina is that I never get to hear or speak Chinese except when I’m in the classroom. So when I was suddenly on a bus full of Chinese exchange students chatting excitedly about finally arriving in America after roughly 24 hours of travel, I was super excited.

Although I could not understand exactly what they were saying (I have only been learning Chinese about 18 months now), I was thrilled when I was able to pick up a few words here and there and string them together very slowly while the conversation went on without me.

My study of Chinese had been leading me to this moment for more than a year. Last year, as a junior, I signed up to go to China for my Mini-Term. I was of course eager to travel, but I thought the most special part would be to host a Chinese exchange student at NCSSM and show them around Durham, then go to China to see their school, city, and to stay in their home.

So when my Chinese teacher asked our group for one or two people to go to the airport that evening to welcome them, I was the first to volunteer.

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Originally published Feb. 2, 2019.

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