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Jan 20, 2015 | Community Relations

GRHS Foshan 2015a

George Ranch High School students and staff pose with Chinese students and staff in front of Foshan School Number Three.

Classes resumed in Lamar CISD two weeks ago, but for 15 George Ranch High School students, those classes resumed in Foshan, China.

The students—along with principal, Leslie Haack and six teachers—spent two weeks at Foshan School Number Three as part of an international exchange program.

“This was truly an amazing experience for myself and our students,” Haack said. “You can learn about foreign countries and different cultures, but for these two weeks in China, we lived it.”

This was especially true for the students who spent the majority of their time on-campus in student dormitories, beginning their day at 6:30 a.m. and often attending classes and activities until after 7 p.m.

On weekends, each student went home with a different host family to experience life outside the dorms. The George Ranch students certainly weren’t shy, many trying their hand at cooking local cuisine or participating in daily chores with their host families. When it was all said and done, most of the students were skilled with chop sticks and many could read and speak basic Chinese phrases.  

The trip to China also marked one year since 13 students and two school administrators from Foshan visited George Ranch High School for two weeks. Prior to that, George Ranch High School also hosted a delegation of principals and administrators from China.

In March of 2013, Lamar CISD superintendent Dr. Thomas Randle signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the District and the Education Bureau of Chancheng District of Foshan, China. At the time, Haack also signed a similar Memorandum of Understanding between George Ranch High School and Foshan School Number Three.

The Fort Bend Global Initiative, a local non-profit organization, helped to organize the international exchange program as a continuation of the relationship it helped form between Fort Bend County and the Chancheng District of Foshan, China.

In November of 2012, Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert and Foshan government officials signed a Sister Community Relationship Agreement. A delegation, including Lamar CISD superintendent Dr. Thomas Randle and Judge Hebert, first visited China in 2011.

“I have no doubt many of our students made lifelong friends,” said Haack. “This wasn’t your typical overseas trip. It was an authentic experience with authentic emotions.”

The journey ended with tearful goodbyes among staff and students from both countries—proving that despite cultural and language differences, there are still times when no translation is needed.

George Ranch High School staff members attending the trip included: Leslie Haack, Tina Chen, Adalia Davis, Julie McGuane, Amanda Respondek, David Squires and Kyra Thomas. 

George Ranch High School students attending the trip included: Mariana Brandon, Martha Czernuszenko, Chrysantha Davis, Phillipe Duborudieu, James Frank, Elena Gehle, Landri Kennedy, Kennedy Knauer, Emily Matta, Megan Perrin, Camille Saha, Corrine Saha, Jackson Santa Ana, Aisha Sheikh and Trevor Williams.