About 40 visiting Chinese middle school students were treated to an all-American picnic — and welcomed by cheerleaders and scouts — on Sunday, July 14, at the home of Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee.
McPhee and first lady Elizabeth McPhee hosted the picnic for the delegation from Hangzhou Normal University’s Dongcheng Education Group, aided by cheerleaders and soccer team members from MTSU, cheerleaders from Murfreesboro’s Blackman High School and Central Magnet School and members of Scouts BSA and the Girl Scouts of the USA.
The Chinese guests enjoyed playing cornhole, volleyball and airplane toss, having their faces painted, and other activities, including a watermelon-eating competition. The visit, which began July 12, is the eighth cultural exchange in a series of reciprocal visits between the institutions.
“It’s wonderful to see youths from our two countries here together, smiling, having fun and playing games,” President McPhee said. “Events like these help make our world smaller and our hearts bigger.
“We so very much appreciate the help from our partner schools and Scouts in making our guests feel welcome.”
After the picnic, the visitors were paired for home visits with local families who participated in last year’s exchange trip to China.
Dongcheng is an affiliate of Hangzhou Normal University, MTSU’s partner in creating and operating the Confucius Institute on the MTSU campus. Dongcheng oversees a network of magnet-style schools in Hangzhou, China.
This is the fourth time MTSU has hosted the Dongcheng delegation, who also visited in 2013, 2015 and 2017. Dongcheng hosted students, parents and teachers from Rutherford County-area schools in China in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Mrs. McPhee, aided by local teachers and parents who have travelled with MTSU to China on previous trips, will conduct joint classes Monday, July 15, for Chinese and American students at Mitchell-Neilson and Overall Creek Elementary Schools in Murfreesboro and host a workshop for Chinese teachers.
The delegation has toured facilities on the MTSU campus and cultural sites, including the new Tennessee State Museum in Nashville and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, during their visit.
A closing ceremony is set for Monday night, and the delegation will leave Murfreesboro Tuesday, July 16.
— Andrew Oppmann (Andrew.Oppmann@mtsu.edu)