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Posted: 08/20/14

CULTURAL EXCHANGE. Above, from left, Ye Fan, Liu YingJiao, Judge Denis LeDuc, Zhang SuWen and Q'Zao Huzinan at the 42-1 District Court.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Chinese students visit Romeo court, orchards

Observer Staff Writer
      Chinese students received lessons in law, culture and apples thanks to visiting the Romeo area this month.
       Four Chinese law students from Beijing visited the 42-1 District Court in Romeo for a three-day observation last week on how the American judicial system works.
       Meanwhile, students from the Quizhou province learned about American culture with Romeo High School instructors.
       Zhang SuWen, Liu YingJiao, Q'Zao Huzinan and Ye Fan are students at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Liu and Q'Zao are going for their doctorates, while Ye and Zhang are in the master's degree program.
       Judge Denis LeDuc has welcomed Chinese students to observe his courtroom proceedings since 2012, saying he has learned a lot in having to explain the legal system to students from a different culture.
       "I think that for Chinese students or any foreign students and for American students, having the opportunity to study in another culture and study in another country is extremely, extremely important," he said.
       The students are spending 20 days in the U.S., observing different levels of Michigan's judicial system before heading to Washington, D.C. In Romeo, the students said they observed a variety of cases, including those involving drugs or alcohol.
       The students noted that the U.S. court system uses a jury, while those in China do not. They said different judges handle different matters in China, such as criminal or civil, while in the U.S. one judge can do all types of cases.
       The students said America's probationary officers or judges tend to take into account a person's particular situation, whereas the population in China doesn't allow for a lot of time spent on a case.
       "Judges in China just follow the law," Liu said.
       However, they said the court system in China is more efficient with only a judge to decide the sentence.
       "I think one system is better to understand and follow," Ye said.
       Becoming a judge differs as well. In the U.S., attorneys typically become judges later in their career through an election or appointment. In China, a judge is a position that requires specific training and is usually filled by a younger generation. Judges must retire at age 60 for men and 55 for women.
       LeDuc said he has learned much from the students, and likes the Chinese method of having specific training to be a judge.
       "There should be some more intensive training" in the U.S., he said. "There is some available in Michigan, I always felt there should be more."
       He noted, though, that in the U.S. the advantage is that judges are elected and tend to have real-world experience as opposed to coming directly out of school.
       The lessons didn't end in the courtroom. Cultural differences were observed by the students by trying out food like hot dogs at Coney Island and visiting Greenfield Village. They also noticed that more time is allowed outside of work to spend with families than in their country.
       "People (in China) work hard and have no time to enjoy life," Liu said.
Romeo experiences

       The law students weren't the only Chinese visitors in the Romeo area. Ten students from the Quizhou province stayed with host families last week as part of a summer exchange program.
       Romeo High School and Qingzhen No. 1 High School became sister schools in February as a way of offering cultural and educational exchanges for both students and teachers.
       Romeo High School teachers took the students, whose ages ranged from 11 to 19 years old, out on Aug. 11 for a day of sightseeing, including a visit to Westview Orchards.
       Kim Lamb, a world history teacher at Romeo High School, said a trip to the orchard was the perfect way to introduce them to the area's culture.
       "We had to translate more than once what `orchard' is," he said. "This is hopefully going to be an exciting thing for them to see."
       The students learned about the creation of apple cider as well as sampling the drink. They also bought some sugary treats from the orchard's converted schoolhouse.
       "I wanted them to experience Romeo and get an idea of what it's really like to be a part of this community," he said.
       Lamb taught the students some lessons in American culture as well as taking them on a tour of the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center. Lamb said so far he believes the exchange program has been beneficial.
       "I think it will be good for Romeo students to have a more global perspective, and I think it will be good for the Chinese students for the exact same reasons," he said.

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