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Posted: 02/19/14

Above, Romeo High School instructor Kim Lamb admires a gift from the Chinese delegates with his world history students. Lamb will be part of a delegate from Romeo that plans to travel to China this June.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

RCS, Qingzhen sign
exchange agreements

Observer Staff Writer
      Romeo and Chinese schools are blending borders to become a unified force in growing cultured students.
       Representatives from Romeo High School (RHS) and the Qingzhen No. 1 High School in Guizhou, China met and signed documents on Feb. 13 that will open doors to international exchange programs between them.
       The schools have worked together since September 2012, with Qingzhen sending 51 teachers to Romeo since that time. To expand on the relationship, two documents were drawn up. The first states RHS and Qingzhen will be sister schools, while the other details cooperative exchanges between the schools.
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell said the agreements depend on Romeo Community Schools earning its Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) certification from the Department of Homeland Security. She said the earliest she will know is March 10.
       "We're counting the days," she said. "We anticipate we're going to get approval but we don't know that yet."
       RHS Principal Mike Kaufman and Qingzhen No. 1 High School Principal Liu Ping signed the sister school agreement, while Campbell and Li Chun, assistant to the mayor of Qingzhen City, signed the cooperation agreement for the district.
       "Starting today, we are sisters and brothers," Liu said in Chinese.
       The agreements say the schools will participate in exchange programs for students and teachers to study, work and live in the sister school's community. They will develop language, art and science courses and teacher-professional development programs.
       For Romeo, Qingzhen plans to send 10 to 20 students in 2014-15 and 30 to 50 students from 2015-2016. The students will be juniors and seniors that will strive for diplomas and to enroll at a U.S. university, but Campbell said they will need the help of local families to provide homes for them.
       "We will be looking for host families," Campbell said.
       Qingzhen is asked to consider scholarship programs for Romeo students to have short-term studies in China. Whether students stay with Chinese families is being worked out, though there are talks of exchanging younger students for summer or winter camps.
       Tuition rates were not specified, but were agreed to be appropriate amounts.
       The sister schools will also share curriculum, policies, events, teaching resources and student work through emails, images and letters.
       The cooperation will remain in place until February 2017 when it will be evaluated, while the sister school document has no expiration.
       "There is a great deal of respect among all of us, and the big vision for Romeo students and staff to be able to experience another culture in a rich way," Campbell said.
       Ledong Li, an associate professor and China program coordinator at Oakland University, helped spearhead the agreements. He called the relationship unique because it directly connects the schools.
       "They choose Romeo because they see great educational leadership here," Ledong said. "They are being approached by many other people as well, and they are happy to be with Romeo."
       Kim Lamb, a world history instructor at Romeo High School, will be a part of a Romeo delegate traveling to Qingzhen No. 1 High School this June. He anticipates the exchange programs will provide Romeo students the opportunity to broaden their views to international levels.
       "China in particular is a dominating, global superpower economically, so it's good for our students to be introduced to the culture and actions of the Chinese," he said.
       The delegates also toured the Romeo district on Feb. 13. The delegates were: Xiao Zhengyou, director of Qingzhen Education Bureau; Zhou Pu, project director for Qingzhen International School; Yu Jianhua, president of Guizhou Guangda Land Development and Investment Cooperation (GGLDIC); Zeng Xuangui, chief economic officer of GGLDIC; Zhong Guoyi, GGLDIC board member; and Yu Liming, manager of education programs for GGLDIC.

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