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As the summer draws to a close, so does the first annual Beijing Youth Leadership Summer Program. The China Center's Mingda Institute for Leadership Training embarked upon a new initiative, hosting 15 students from the preeminent Beijing No. 4 High School for four weeks of academic and cultural pursuits. A hybrid of in-classroom presentation skill building and off-site explorations of college campuses in Minnesota, the Beijing Youth Leadership program was designed to introduce Chinese students to the numerous advantages of living and studying in the American Midwest.
The students visited the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Macalester College, St. Olaf College, Carleton College, and the University of St. Thomas in addition to the thorough introduction they received to the flagship university of the Minnesota state system in the Twin Cities. While on the U of M campus, they attended intensive listening/speaking and reading/writing courses for four hours each morning Monday through Friday. Outside the classroom, the students were introduced to the Minnesotan tradition of service learning, working with the Friends of the Mississippi River to raise awareness of water pollution and visiting residents of Ebenezer Tower Apartments to play bingo.
In addition to academic pursuits, the students also experienced a wide variety of Midwestern summer traditions, from visiting Oliver H. Kelley farm, to shopping at the Mall of America, to learning how to decorate cupcakes. The students, ranging in age from 15-18, were not well acquainted with one another upon their arrival; the summer program was an excellent opportunity to learn about team building, leadership capabilities, and working through adversity.
By the last week of the program, many students were already making plans to visit Minnesota again in the near future. Several were surprised to realize that the schools they had originally wanted to attend (Harvard, Yale, Stanford) now did not seem quite as attractive after exposure to smaller campuses, more opportunities to work directly with professors, and, perhaps most notably of all, the concept of Minnesota Nice. It looks like the Twin Cities may be welcoming a few more Chinese residents to the school system in the next couple of years.
"I had a great time in Minnesota and it's definitely an unforgettable experience. The afternoon and weekend activities are so well arranged that I can't believe this is the first time of the program!" noted one student.
為增進對明州大學系統的了解， 學生們聽取專家講座之餘，還訪問了明尼蘇達大學德盧斯校區、麥可拉斯特學院、聖歐拉學院、卡爾頓學院和聖托馬斯大學。 學生們在明大的課程也非常充實， 除了每週五天每天四個小時的聽說讀寫課之外，他們還會參與各種富有明州特色的文化交流活動，比如在“密西西比河之友“組織的指導下進行污染防治的科普宣傳，以及和愛貝內澤公寓的老年住戶們打牌娛樂。
在夏令營的最後一週，很多學生已經開始規劃下次造訪明州。很多學生在體驗了本地學院的校園緊湊、受教授指導機會多等優點之後，開始覺得自己來美國之前憧憬的名校似乎不那麼有吸引力了。明州的這一吸引力當然也要歸功於民風純樸友善的Minnesota Nice傳統。 我們可以合理的期待，在接下來的幾年內，雙城地區將接待多一批小留學生了。